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Brotherhood  by Bodkin



‘You are still our little brother, Estel,’ Elladan declared, inspecting the silver hair and white beard mischievously, ‘for all you look as venerable as Mithrandir.’

‘You are the only ones now who call me that,’ the King of Gondor and Arnor said wistfully.  ‘Who remember me as a child.’  He sighed.  ‘I have now reigned so long that there is no man living who knows a time before my rule.  I have begun to learn, I think, something of what you accepted in calling a child of men your brother.’  His eyes brooded like storm clouds edged with light on an aching abandonment that he had never expected.  ‘Those I loved as brothers – their children and their children’s children: all gone.’  He blinked and looked apologetically at the twins, two half-elves who looked young enough to be his grandsons.  ‘I am sorry, my friends.  You have more courage than I – I find that now I tend to keep my distance from those whom I would once have chosen as friends.’

Elrohir gripped his sworn brother’s arm with a hand that was smooth and untouched by time, but the eyes that met Elessar’s were fathomless with age and experience.  ‘You cannot keep apart from the world, Estel,’ he said.  ‘It does more harm than good in the long run – we are meant to care for others we meet along our path through life, even if we touch each other but briefly.’  A swift smile brightened his face. ‘And you were impossible to resist – a bundle of energy that turned Imladris upside-down and obtained everyone’s attention quite unconsciously.  You had us all dancing to your tune – and that was part of your charm.’ 

‘And then,’ Elladan added, ‘there was Gilraen … She was – numb.   Broken and foundered and cast adrift.’  He looked at Elessar and turned away, hunching his shoulder in an airy attempt at a shrug.  ‘You have seen it in others – and are wise enough these days to understand.  She needed family as much as you did.  Brothers to support her – sons to scold.  Kin close enough to be proper family.  Those whom she could help.’

‘And she did.’  Elrohir said with complete sincerity.  ‘Without question – her courage and selflessness cut deeper than she knew. Lanced festering wounds and opened us to … a child.’  He studied his brother-in-law.  ‘You will always be with us, Estel. Always.’

The ageing king ducked his head to examine gnarled hands.  ‘I would never,’ he said, ‘have had the arrogance to present my heart to your sister, had I not been so young.  If I had not been so … unaware of the frailty – the impermanence of men.’  Fleetingly, he met Elladan’s silvery eyes.  ‘Had I known then how swiftly the years would fly past ...  I would have seen her – admired her … loved her, even, but …’  He stopped long enough to draw a steadying breath.  ‘I do not have much longer,’ he said bluntly, ‘and I know – now – that in dying, I will cause her death, the end of the Evenstar, whom I love more than life.’

‘Her choice,’ Elladan told him softly.  ‘Do not be so arrogant as to think you could have denied her that.’  He smiled – and if the smile was shadowed, it was hidden from his foster brother.  ‘Arwen is no cipher to be disposed of by fate – or by her overly-protective kin.  She knew the cost of loving you long before you understood it – knew it, accepted it, and would not change it.’

‘Our sister is as determined as ever Lúthien was,’ Elrohir remarked.  ‘If she were not permitted to follow you, she would make Lord Námo miserable until he interceded with the One to make possible your reunion in that place to which elves cannot go.’  He raised his face to bask in the sunlight.  ‘The Lord of Mandos set a precedent – and she would not relent until he agreed to permit her to follow it.’

‘You cannot fool me,’ Elessar said darkly.  ‘I know you would rather take her home.’

In the breeze that always blew in the high gardens above the city, the roses nodded their agreement.  ‘We would, of course,’ Elladan admitted finally.  ‘But we would take you, too, little brother.  You and our nephew – our nieces.  All our family.  But it cannot be.’

‘We will be reunited,’ Elrohir said with total conviction.  ‘In Eru’s time – when Arda’s purpose is fulfilled.’

Elessar sighed, leaning against the cushioned back of the chair he now favoured over sprawling on the grass.  ‘I would not have you endure the passage of so many ages mourning those you have lost.’

‘But remembering those we have loved?’ Elladan spoke gently.  ‘You would not rob us of that?’

‘You will go west?’  It was a simple enquiry – a hope – no royal command could force his foster brothers into doing what he wanted. 

‘When the time comes,’ Elrohir informed him, refusing to make any promises as to when that would be.  The twins exchanged a sober glance.  They had seen men approaching their end before – many times – friends and brothers-in-arms; distant kin – but they had never been … they had never been Estel

‘Tell Adar that now I understand,’ Elessar smiled sadly. ‘That I understand, and I am sorry.’

‘He knows,’ Elladan told him.  ‘He has always known.  It grieved him to part from Arwen – and from you – as much because he felt that, in leaving when he did, he had failed you both as because …’

‘The parting would endure as long as Arda?’

‘Adar understands sacrifice.’  Elrohir said.  ‘Sacrifice and loss and endurance.  But he deals with it – because he understands love and faith and trust, as well.’  He took his brother’s hand between both his own and squeezed gently.  ‘You lead the way, little brother, that is all.  Look after our sister – and make sure the circles beyond the world are ready for us when at last we come to join you.’

‘That day will come, Estel,’ Elladan declared with absolute certainty. ‘Be sure of it.’



This has been written for ... ages.  Since January 2007.  Posting it does not mean that there won't be other episodes with young Estel.  There very probably will.

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