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Chapter 9 – A Gift from the Valar
All was silent for a few minutes after the Chieftain’s passing until the air was rent again with a child’s scream, “Papa!” and the little boy began to sob unrestrainedly. Gilraen in her shocked haze of grief tried to soothe the child, but nothing worked. In the end Elladan had to take hold of the child and weave sleep around him. He did not know if he could touch a mortal child’s mind, and he was not as practiced at it as his father but as the boy did have trace amounts of Elven blood in him it might work and he knew he had to try. The boy was inconsolable. He sat holding the screaming and sobbing child, closed his eyes and ever so gently reached out to touch the child’s mind. At first the child’s spirit rejected him but soon he felt the pain and confusion of a young mind and he gently soothed it until the child had fallen asleep in his arms.
By now it was now daybreak and decisions had to be made. Elladan in his sitting position still held the sleeping child and Gilraen was leaning on him with one arm thrown over Aragorn protectively and finally fallen into an exhausted sleep. Elladan was not faring too much better but he knew what was required of him and his brother right now. Their own sorrows and they would be great as they had loved Arathorn almost as a brother would have to wait. “Master Erkenthal,” he called across the battlefield to the red-haired lieutenant to Arathorn, “what say you? I say Aragorn more than ever needs to be taken to Rivendell. He will need to be in a place where he can feel safe. I cannot keep him sleeping like this. It is not good for him.”
The grief-stricken lieutenant looked at little Aragorn, who was now his unsworn Chieftain and over to the body of his fallen friend and Commander and sighed, “My heart says take the boy back to his own people, but I know Arathorn wished him to go to Rivendell and I have not the heart to go against my lord’s wishes.” He knelt down to stroke the now sweaty and matted curls of his Chieftain. He kissed the little forehead. “This will nearly kill Erithain, he loved Arathorn like a brother. But Arathorn chose well for the little boy’s regent. It was almost as if he knew this would happen.”
Elladan looked down at the sleeping child and thought, I did know this was going to happen, I just did not know when. He silently cursed prophesies showing them the truth but giving them no power to change what must be and anger flowed freely through him until Aragorn squirmed in his sleep. Quickly Elladan calmed his anger and the boy returned to a peaceful slumber. Out loud he said, “Very well. What say you to splitting our forces. Half to Rivendell with Gilraen and the little one and half as a guard of honour for Arathorn,” his voice catching at the last word.
“It is a sound plan. I shall make the necessary arrangements.” Erkenthal bowed his head to his little Chieftain and went off to see the plans put into action.
Elladan’s shoulders sagged and his eyes closed. He felt so tired. Soon he felt a welcomed presence in his mind. Hello, my brother. He said in his mind as he felt his brother’s concern and quiet strength.
Elrohir’s presence in his mind said, You cannot keep doing this! You cannot keep giving of your fea to a Mortal child! It will only weaken you.
Elladan said, But I must! He is in such pain. I cannot bear to see it! Arathorn would have wanted this.
Elrohir’s presence sighed, Oh my brother! That heart of yours will some day be your undoing I fear! But if you insist on this course, then I must be allowed to help. A bright yet gentle light spread through Elladan’s mind and he felt refreshed.
Now who should warn who about weakening their fea!
Elrohir’s presence laughed inside his mind Well, you are not the only one with a soft heart. With a gentle kiss upon his senses Elrohir withdrew from his brother’s mind.
Elladan opened his eyes to feel his brother at his back and the sleeping child still in his arms. Gilraen stirred and started slightly when she realised where she was. Gilraen looked up into star-filled blue eyes looking back at her with compassion. “Good morning, my lady,” said Elladan greeting her gently.
Gilraen’s eyes filled with pain and she threw her hands up over her ears, “Do not ever dare to speak those words to me ever again!” she fervently whispered as she drew back from the Elf.
“What words, my lady?” Elladan inquired.
“My Lady!” She almost shouted. “Elrohir spoke those words just before he brought to me to where Arathorn….” Her voice broke.
Gilraen looked back at the stricken Elf cradling her child. The unspoken pain that was written across his face as he stared at her broke her heart and she realised that she had a compatriot in her pain. She kneeled beside the sitting Elf, “Forgive me, I know not what I say. My mind is all a jumble.”
“You are sad. You have had your life torn asunder. And I have unintentionally wounded you further. As it is I who should apologise, I think I can find it in my heart to forgive a few misspoken words,” the elder son of Elrond spoke gently, his eyes a mirror of the pain she felt before he looked away. He sounded so lost as he sat there cradling the sleeping Aragorn.
Awakened by the shouting Elrohir cast a concerned look at his twin. “Gilraen, might I speak with you for a moment.”
Gilraen nodded her acquiescence and together they walked off a fair distance from the battle site. Upon stopping she gathered herself together and stared into the concerned blue eyes of Elladan’s twin. “Elrohir, please allow me to apology again for speaking so.”
The Elf shook his head, “There is no need. As my brother rightly said, you are sad. Much can be understood. Understand also that my brother and I are very protective of each other.” Elrohir looked away to stare over the preparations being made to move the retinue in the two opposite direction of Imladris and Fornost, “I say this because I wish you to know what Elladan does for your son. He is giving of his lifeforce, his fea, to help protect and comfort your son. He has touched Aragorn’s mind and helped him temporarily find rest and a measure of peace. He does this out of choice because he is kind-hearted and loved Arathorn well; and also because he understands what the Heirs of Isildur mean to the future of Middle Earth.” Elrohir looked back at Gilraen, eyes full of concern for his brother, “Yet, you must understand it is not normal for a warrior to give of himself in this way. Normally only our healers perform this sort of connection, because the actions of healing and the taking of life run counter to each other. For a warrior to make this kind of connection weakens him, but he is doing it because he feels he must. Also he carries his own grief which is a danger in and of itself for our kind, yet he gives to Aragorn.” Elrohir sighed, “I do not fully understand why I feel compelled to tell you this when your own grief is still so new. But I felt you should know. I hope you do not think me unkind for telling you all of this.”
Gilraen stared back across the short distance to where Elladan sat holding her son “I had always heard that Elves did not trouble themselves overly with the trials of Men.” She looked back at the Elf standing before her, gratitude showing on her face, “I know now that is not true.” She reached up to the Elf’s neck and pulled his head closer to kiss each cheek and then his brow. “Thank you. I cannot think how I can ever repay your kindness towards me or my son.”
All were sick with grief and the wounded required at least a day’s rest, but it was decided that to wait any longer than they already had was not a safe or sound idea. So after a day spent on the preparations that Elladan and Erkenthal had decided on together were complete and a night waiting anxiously for an attack that blissfully never came; the two parties separated at that Rocky outcropping just west of the Trollshaws. Thankfully the horses and Aragorn’s little Gilgilath went unnoticed by the Orcs and were ready to be saddled up for the respective journeys.
Elladan shared care of the child with Gilraen. Since his initial outbursts Aragorn had said very little and only would allow Gilraen or Elladan to hold him. With anyone else he became fretful and or would start crying. On occasion he would ask where his papa was. Elrohir surmised that he might not remember exactly what had happened near the Trollshaws, at least consciously. It was not an easy journey for everyone was weighted down by cares and grief. It was the change in Aragorn that sadden those who made this journey the most. Just days before the little boy would chirp happily to anyone and everyone and his laughter had been heard throughout the camp. Now he barely spoke and would stay close to either Gilraen or Elladan, shying away from all others in the retinue.
It did not help that they ran into a far smaller band of Orcs just before the Ford of Bruinen. There were only about ten of them and they were dispatched in short order, but Aragorn had again become so distraught that Elladan had to risk weaving sleep around him once again. It affected both of them. Aragorn did indeed feel the rest he needed, but this last communion between the Elf and the Mortal child had left Elladan more susceptible his own grief and had caused him to withdraw into himself. This of course, in turn caused Elrohir to worry greatly about his brother.
Worry for her little son caused Gilraen to shove her own considerable grief to the back of her mind. She was constantly talking with her little child, playing with him, trying to get him to interact with her and the others and so far she had been met with very limited success.
After crossing the Fords however the spirits of the group lighten somewhat and one could tell by looking at Elladan that simply crossing over into his father’s lands was in some small measure starting to replenished his fea, although he was by no means healed of his self-inflicted wounds to his soul. He would not let them heal as long as he felt little Aragorn had need of him. But the trees and meadows of his childhood called out to his spirit and sensing that all was not well tried to coax him along with all the remembered joys of childhood. But for the most part the beauty of the ravine in which Imladris was nestled went largely unnoticed by the somber retinue.
About an hour after the crossing of the Ford three Elven archers, dressed in muted shades of green, dropped soundlessly to the ground out of nowhere. At least that was the way it seemed to the Mortals of the escort. Elrohir looked amused and said to the lead archer as Elrond's younger son gracefully dismounted, “You’re slipping, Tequin! I was expecting you to show yourselves fifteen minutes ago!”
The lead archer said, “A likely story.” He grinned and then saw Elladan holding the small Heir of Isildur whom they had been sent to seek word of. The Elf did not look up as he concentrated on the child in question. Concern crossed Tequin’s fair face and looked at Elrohir whose eyes said not to ask any questions at this time. Tequin obeyed the silent command from one who was essentially his superior officer, “I, Tilade and Cefzil will take any message forward you would wish to deliver in advance of your coming. What news?”
What news indeed, thought Elrohir sorrowfully. He related the barest details to Tequin, who upon hearing sobered immediately. He looked immediately to Gilraen, bowed and said, “You have my deepest sympathies, my lady.” At that Gilraen flinched involuntarily, but she managed to say, “Thank you, Tequin,” touched her head and heart in the greetings of her people. Tequin looked again at Elladan holding the little Chieftain, “And the boy, he is well.”
Elladan looked up with darkened and grief-filled eyes, and responded quietly, “He is well, Tequin.”
Shocked at his appearance, Tequin looked at the eldest son of Lord Elrond and thought, Yes, my lord. But are you? The question however remained unasked. “We will depart. And inform Lord Elrond of what has unfolded before you arrive.” The Imladris rangers rode forth to tell of the company’s return and the dark tidings of the Trollshaws.
A few hours later, Elrond, having been alerted to his sons’ approach, made his way down from his study to the bottom of the steps to the Last Homely House. He watched as Elrohir and Elladan dismounted their horses and waited for them to approach. Elrohir came forward immediately, but Elladan stayed behind to, first hand down to Gilraen the precious little bundle of child that he had been holding, and then to dismount.
“Adar.” Elrohir said, “We have returned home as soon as was possible. And yet there were a great many griefs to be had along the way.” Elrond then clasped arms with his younger son. Upon touching his eldest child, he noticed with concern that Elladan’s light had dimmed since last they saw each other. Elrond looked at his oldest child and stroking his dark hair, gently reached out into his mind. My son! What have you done to yourself?
Elladan turned dulled blue eyes to his father. What needed to be done, Adar. His thoughts answered quietly.
Oh my son. Elrond spoke quietly into his mind, anguished at what his eldest child had risked and endured. Both spirit and body encircled his son. Within his mind Elladan felt an enveloping and nurturing light caress his inner senses and replenish his spirit so that he might be whole again. His father gently left his mind. Looking into his son’s again unclouded star-filled eyes, he saw joy there once again. Smiling he kissed his son’s brow and looked up.
Worry lifted from Elrohir’s heart as he witnessed the communion between his father and brother. Elrond’s younger son then continued, “May I present the Lady Gilraen?”
Gilraen stepped forward still holding little Aragorn in her arms and bowed. “I am honoured that you have allowed us to call Rivendell home. Thank you.” She next said solemnly, “Might I introduce to you, my son, Aragorn.” She opened her arms out just a little to allow Elrond to see the now-shy child.
Elrond had been told of the child’s distress by the returning Imladris Rangers. He knelt before the little child in his mother’s arms saying softly, as if speaking to a little bird easily frightened, “Welcome my little one.”
Aragorn still hid his head in the crook of his mother’s neck. Using his most gentle and most musical voice, “Aragorn, we are very pleased to have you come and live among us.” The little boy lifted his head from his mother’s shoulder and turned tentatively to the melodic voice. Wide gray eyes sought out Elrond’s own pale blue and it broke Elrond’s heart to see the hurt and bewilderment residing in those eyes that were so young. Elrond understood then why his son had risked what he did to protect and comfort the boy. The child gazed solemnly at Elrond for many minutes. He seemed drawn to Elrond, but then hid his face again in the crook of his mother’s neck.
“I’m sorry My Lord,” Gilraen said, “He’s a little shy of strangers at the present time.”
“That is more than understandable,” Elrond said, “We share your grief, Lady Gilraen and offer our deepest sympathy. We loved him here in Imladris. I am sorry.” Elrond touched his head and heart.
“Thank you,” Gilraen answered bowing her head, her grief flowing freely through her briefly. She would only allow it only a few moments freedom before she tucked it away safely, allowing her to be a mother to this child who now needed her so much.
The suite of rooms of that was to be theirs had been thoughtfully furnished by Elrond, himself. The larger room contained a loom for Gilraen and furnishings made lovingly with fine Elven craftsmanship. The balcony overlooked the twin waterfalls that fed the Bruinen. It connected through a doorway to the room appointed for Aragorn, fitted with the same soft of furnishings and shelves filled with books and space for toys and such. Aragorn’s room also connected onto Elrond’s as well.
Gilraen carried her son over to the balcony, saying, “Isn’t it beautiful, my little lad? Look Aragorn, waterfalls and horses drinking by the stream.”
Aragorn did lift his head at the mention of horses and looked down at the two horses and their riders taking a cool drink at the small watering spot. He blinked once or twice and then returned his head to his mother’s shoulder. “It’s OK. My little love. You’ll begin speaking more when you ready.” She kissed his forehead as she turned away from the balcony to go back inside.
At that moment, a knock sounded at the door and she called “Come in!” An Elf in some sort of livery stepped through the door and bowed low, “Lady Gilraen, Lord Elrond wishes to speak with you, if it is convenient.”
“Yes, of course. Are we to go now?” Gilraen said politely.
“Yes, I am here to escort you to his study.”
Gilraen nodded, “Did you hear that, my little lad? We shall go and see Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir’s papa.” Aragorn looked at the servant Elf and looked back at Gilraen and simply continued to suck his thumb.
The servant looked at Gilraen then beheld Aragorn’s sad little eyes and smiled, “Might I say, we are very happy to have you here with us, little one.” When he received no discernable response the Elf looked at Gilraen, “He will be happy again. This much I know. Imladris is a healing place.”
Gilraen looked at the Elf, wanting to believe him, “Thank you for those kind words. You know my name but I do not know yours?”
“It is Elmiran, son of Diovan.” Elimiran bowed low and said, “If you will follow me.”
Gilraen followed Elmiran through two hallways and past many doors, some open, some not. She noticed various Elves going about their daily business much in the same way that the people of her settlement did. The tools might looked slightly different and she was unfamiliar with some tasks but, the industry of the place was similar. It surprised her, and she realised that she had not really thought about what it would be like to live daily among Elves. So many other thoughts had occupied her. On occasion she met the eyes of an Elf in passing and she found kindness in his or her eyes when she had expected arrogance, or so the stories went.
They reached an archway decorated in silver leaved vines reaching upward from the floor and meeting at the top of the arch. Elmiran knocked on the door, receiving a response of “Come in!” he opened the door wide and said, “You may go in, Lady Gilraen.” Elmiran then looked at Aragorn, who had looked up at his voice. “I will hope to see more of you later, my little one.” The Elf smiled gently at him, bowed to them and then left. Gilraen looked kindly after the Elf and then looked curiously through the door and stepped over the threshold.
The room was simple and yet more beautiful than anything her Dunedain bred eyes had ever encountered. All her life she had only known wood or wattle and daub housing. Even the Chieftain’s seat at Fornost had been no different, much to her initial surprise. But here in Imladris, she saw the beauty of delicately soaring stone. She was awestruck.
Elrond’s voice broke her reverie, “I trust your rooms are to your satisfaction.” Gilraen looked at Elrond. She had only met him a few times before that day and always these meetings had been in Fornost. Met within his own environment Elrond looked more imposing than she had ever known him to seem, but when she came closer and looked into his eyes she saw the same compassion that had always been in evidence.
Gilraen gulped and tried bring her emotions under control, “They are beautiful.” Unlooked for tears started spilling from her eyes. “I’m sorry, I do not know why I am crying! Everyone has been so kind to Aragorn and I.” Aragorn noticing his mother’s distress started to cry also. Gilraen sobbed, “And now I have made you cry, my sweet little boy!” Gilraen planted a wet kiss on the boy’s forehead. Elrond was by her side immediately. He embraced her and the little boy. Gathered into and surrounded by his arms and the rich silk robe that smelled of herbs and fresh air, Gilraen relaxed and sobbed her heart away. It was the first time she had felt safe and secure since they had left Fornost. She knew she had to be strong for Aragorn, but he was offering consolation and she had no strength left to resist the offered compassion.
“You have lost much, Gilraen, daughter of Ivorwen and Dirhael. There is no shame in these tears. The pain is still fresh. I am told in Mortals, it eases.” Elrond said softly as he stroked her hair in its unkempt travel plait. He gently swiveled her and her son back and forth until eventually her tears ceased.
Gilraen pulled away, wiping her tears with her child-unencumbered hand. Her hand felt the red puffiness that she knew was spread across her face , she looked sheepishly at Elrond. “I am so sorry and I have ruined your robe.”
Elrond looked her saying, “You and your son’s well-being are more important than a scrap of silken fabric. Pay it no mind.” He walked over to an ornate silver table near a sofa spread with a rich brocade, unstoppered a decanter and filled a tall fluted glass with an amber liquid. He motioned for Gilraen and Aragorn to sit on the sofa as he sat on a wooden chair with deep cushioning on the seat and armrests. Handing her the glass after she had seated herself, Elrond said, “Drink this, it will revive you.”
Gilraen took the glass and sipped at it and found that it tasted delicious, she quickly finished the small amount he had given her, “Thank you.” The liquid warmed and soothed her and suddenly she felt much better. Elrond smiled as he saw the strain on her face relax. The cordial had had its desired effect.
“Feeling better?” Gilraen smiled and nodded. “Good. As I said before we are very happy to receive you and this precious little one. You may consider this your home.” Seeing Aragorn looking warily at him, but with budding curiosity, Elrond got up from his chair and knelt in front of him, “Oh, my little one, I am so happy that you are here. Can you smile for me?” Elrond spoke gently as if he were coaxing a shy little mouse to come out his hiding place. Aragorn continued to look at this bright being with the kind blue eyes. “I’m going to think you do not like me?” and Elrond pretended to be sad and pout. “I’m sure you have a beautiful smile.” Aragorn looked at him and bit his lower lip pensively. Aragorn looked at him and then up at his mama, who was now smiling. Encouraged, Aragorn looked back down at Elrond and reached out a tentatively little hand to touch one of the older Elf’s pointed ears. “Ears, like ‘Dan and ‘Roh!” He again felt it and said, “Elf?”
Elrond face split in an ear to ear grin, “That’s my bright boy! I am an Elf and Adar to ‘Dan and ‘Roh!”
Aragorn then made a grab for one of Elrond’s dark plaits. “Dark like ‘Lath!” Elrond looked quizzically at Gilraen. “Lath?”
Gilraen was so happy so she was almost crying again, “ ‘Lath is his little colt, Gilgilath. You should feel very complimented.”
Elrond burst out with a joyous laugh that at first stunned Aragorn, he had not heard a laugh like that for what had been a very long time for a little boy of almost three. The next sound was one Gilraen never forgot as long as she lived, Aragorn laughing. After almost a week of unimaginable horror and grief to hear her silent child laughing was like a gift from the Valar. A small feeling inside her breast re-emerged which she at first did not recognise. It was hope.
Author’s note: The Elven concept of the fea I have taken from the HoME series “Morgoth’s Ring” The discussion of the fea does not specifically talk about sharing one’s fea as a healing process, but they do talk about how healing and hunting and being a warrior were not usually performed by the same Elf because “the dealing of death, even when lawful of under necessity, diminished the power of healing” p. 213 vol. X of HoME. I then extrapolated for dramatic purposes, and because it was fun to think “deeply” of the these ideas, that a warrior giving of his fea in purposes of healing would weaken his fea each time he did it.
The speaking onto another’s mind I sort of got from the films. Galadriel spoke into Frodo’s mind, I thought it might make sense that Elrohir and Elladan and Elrond would have this bond. I was also influenced by Nilmandra’s wonderful “May the Valar Protect Them.” I hope she does not mind that she was inspiration for part of this chapter!
Also I have been influenced by the many wonderful pieces of fanfic stories about Elves so if an idea sounds familiar the intention was not to outright lift it but rather I was so touched by the beauty of the idea and it remained in my imagination, but I also can’t remember where I got the ideas from. If those persons are reading this story, I thank you for the inspiration. Also I realise that Fea is supposed to have an Umlaut over the 'e' but I could not for the life of me find my alternate keyboards to look for the umlaut! So the umlaut exists in spirit only! :-)) MM
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