Title: He’s My Son

Summary: Eldarion takes deathly ill, and Aragorn is reminded of a time from his childhood.

Disclaimer: The characters aren’t mine, and neither is the song that this story is based on and named for. The story idea was mine, and I’d ‘ppreciate it if I could keep that.


He’s My Son


Night was deep in the White City of Minas Tirith. The stars of Elbereth shone above, seeming to dance a spiral around the White Tower of Ecthelion. Since Sauron’s final defeat twenty years ago and the return of the King, peace had reigned in the reunited Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor. That peace covered every Gondorian, from the youngest child to the oldest man.

Well…almost everyone.

Deep in the palace, Aragorn bit his lip as he stood over the bed of his son, his only child. The boy’s face was flushed and he tossed and turned, too hot even with every window open. Arwen had gone to bed hours ago, but Aragorn remained awake, watching and praying.

The young teenager had fallen sick several days ago, and, at first, it had been a normal childhood disease. Aragorn had entertained his son with accounts of when he was a child in Rivendell, the only one who got sick in the whole house, and his son had laughed at the accounts.

But as time went on, Eldarion got sicker and sicker, and, earlier that morning, this fever had set in. Aragorn realized that there was something more there than the typical childhood illness, and he began throwing himself into the fight whole-heartedly…to no avail. Eldarion had gone into a delirious coma sometime in the afternoon.

Aragorn had done everything he knew to do. Every ounce of strength he’d had he poured into his efforts to save Eldarion. But the strength that had pulled Merry, Faramir and Eowyn from the effects of the Black Breath had done nothing for this fever that held Eldarion in its grips and he was at the end of his wits and his resources.

“Oh Ilúvatar,” he whispered, his tone bordering on prayer as he knelt and took his son’s hand. It was burning hot in his hand, and the King wondered briefly how Eldarion could be so hot and yet live. Bending his head forward, Aragorn braced his forehead against the back of his son’s hand, feeling the heat radiate into his own head.

Eldarion moaned in his sleep and turned his head toward his father, his grey eyes barely visible through the long dark lashes. He moaned again, the moan turning into the whispered word ‘Ada’.

Aragorn closed his eyes and stood up, walking unsteadily to the window. “Ilúvatar,” he said again, louder. “Please…” He couldn’t finish his sentence. He knew that if Ilúvatar didn’t do something, his son would die.

He remembered stories his father, Lord Elrond, had told him as a young man. He remembered the look of remembered pain and helplessness that entered the grey eyes studying him when the story was told of a night, long ago…

//“I used to hate it when you got sick, Estel.” Elrond said, sitting beside the boy’s bed.

“Why, Ada? Because it reminded you that I’m a weak human?” groused the sixteen-year old Estel.

“No,” Elrond laughed, handing the boy his medicine. “Because it always reminded me how temporary our lives are. Take your medicine, and I will tell you a story of your name, a story of hope.”

Estel scowled at the cupful of medicine, but he loved his Ada’s stories. He sipped deeply then looked up expectantly. Elrond smiled and settled back in his chair, remembering that night about eight years ago.

“You were about eight when this happened. We had just gotten used to a child in the house again, after all the years since Elladan and Elrohir were young. Things had just about settled into a normal routine…when it happened.” Elrond paused, running his tongue lightly over his lips.

“Elladan and Elrohir were preparing for a hunting trip, as our supplies were low, and you begged to go along.” Elrond could still see it as clearly as if it were yesterday. He could see the twins, Elladan wearing a distinctly impatient look and Elrohir trying to be understanding, wearing their hunting gear and ready to head out, could see young Estel begging to go along, bright tears in his eyes.

//“Please, please Ada!” Estel begged, tugging on the Elf Lord’s tunic. “I won’t be any trouble, I promise!”

Elladan started to say something sharp, but was checked by his twin’s hand on his shoulder and a shake of Elrohir’s head. Neither had the gift of reading minds, but they understood each other well enough that Elladan knew his brother was thinking, ‘He is already fragile emotionally. Do not make it worse with hasty words.’

“Estel, ion-nin, you are too young.” Elrond’s tone was gentle as he picked up the young human and held him effortlessly a few inches from his face.

Estel squirmed. “Put me down!” he yelped. “I’m not an infant!”

Elrond sighed and did as Estel said, putting the boy down gently on his feet. Estel turned and ran back into the house, shouting, “You’ll say I’m too young even when I’m old and grey!”

Elrond exchanged a look with his sons and shook his head slightly. “You two go on. Our larders are low enough as it is,” he said quietly, patting their shoulders. “I will speak to Estel when he has had time to cool off.”

The twins nodded and, shouldering their bows, they headed for the woods.

About an hour later, Elrond decided Estel’d had enough time to cool off, so he went to the little boy’s room. “Estel?” he called, tapping on the door lightly.

No response. Elrond frowned and knocked again, calling the boy’s name a bit louder. When silence prevailed from the other side of the door, Elrond opened it and stepped inside, scanning the interior of the cozy room. No Estel in sight…but the window was open and knotted sheets trailed out and down the side of the building.

“Oh no,” Elrond whispered, moving to the window and looking down. Estel’s footprints were only visible for a short time, and then…nothing. “Elbereth, that boy will be the death of me,” the Elf Lord muttered, heading outside as fast as he could.

He searched the area around Estel’s footsteps, searching for any hint of the boy’s passing. After a few moments, he looked at the bole of a tree…and saw marks as if someone small had climbed it. “I knew we would regret teaching him how to climb,” he said, mostly to himself. Removing his hampering outer robes, Elrond climbed the tree quickly and gracefully, if not as nimbly as his woodland kin.

The faint marks on the trees told Elrond basic directions, and the trees themselves were willing to help the Elf Lord, as they lived under his protection as much as any Elf of this land. With that extra help, Elrond tracked the boy until his trail left the trees and headed through rocky ground.

“Who would have guessed he was actually paying attention when we taught him to evade pursuit?” Elrond thought aloud, recognizing the tricks he himself had labored to teach the boy.

At last, he came to a point where he was completely confounded. The tracks before him revealed that the trail Elrond had been following had been a useful fox trick employed by the young lad. Somewhere along the line, Estel had backtracked from this point and took a different trail. Sighing in frustration, the Elf Lord retraced his steps, searching for the point where Estel had left the trail.

It was about mid-afternoon when he found the trail…and something else.

“Ada!” Elladan called, waving to catch his father’s attention. The twins exchanged a puzzled glance. Why was their father out here, wearing a casual tunic and leggings, his normal robes nowhere in sight?

Elrond looked up at his son’s call and a couple of worry lines smoothed from his face. “Mae govennan, Elladan, Elrohir,” he greeted as casually as if they had met in the halls of Rivendell. “Have you caught any game worth mentioning?”

“We have a couple deer stored in our temporary campsite that way,” Elrohir replied, stepping up beside his brother as he pointed toward their campsite. “Ada…why are you out here?”

“Estel is missing,” Elrond replied simply, his eyes tired.

“Missing?” the twins chorused.

“Aye, missing. I would guess he has been gone since you two left. I need your help tracking him.” Elrond laughed ruefully. “It would appear, to my chagrin, that he has learned the evading skills we sought to teach him far too well.”

Faint smiles played on the twins’ lips, but mirth was set aside as Elladan glanced at the clouds. “We had best start searching,” he said. “Rain is approaching and will wipe out his prints if we do not hurry.”

The small family split up and took different search patterns. Elrond continued following Estel’s tracks, Elladan followed his father off to the right of the extremely well hidden tracks, and Elrohir took the left, covering a good twenty-foot search area.

Estel, though he had been in a rush to leave, had taken every care to cover his tracks well, and the three Elves had their hands full just trying to understand the tracks. The predicted rain began to fall, gently at first, then heavier until the Elves were soaked through to the skin.

At last, when the rain was falling so heavily that even the Elves’ far-seeing eyes could barely see more than ten feet, Elrond called his sons back to where he was, and they gathered under a tree, trying to stay dry.

“It is no use, Ada,” Elladan said, his tone a bit louder than normal. “Any tracks there might have been have been completely eradicated by this cursed rain. We should head back to Imladris.”

“And leave Estel out here alone?” Elrohir demanded, rounding solidly on his twin. “I would sooner rot in the Void than leave that young one alone out here.”

“He should not have left.” Elladan’s tone was stubborn, though his grey eyes showed indecision and helplessness.

“Estel is a smart lad,” Elrond interjected. “He will know to take cover from the rain. This is actually the best time to search for him, as he will be stationary for another hour or so. We need to split up. Elladan, go left and search in a straight line from here. Whistle three times if you find him. Elrohir, go right, same signal. I will go straight.”

His sons nodded and headed in their assigned directions, each praying silently that Estel would be found soon. Elrond watched them go until they seemed to merge with their misty surroundings. Pulling his hood tightly about his head, Elrond set off in his chosen direction, also praying and keeping his ears open for the call.


Estel shivered uncontrollably as he huddled in the smallest ball he could manage, crammed inside a hollowed tree. He hadn’t counted on this rain, though it would be helpful if anyone were following him, which he didn’t expect. But oh, he was so cold! He’d left in a large hurry, not bothering to bring either cloak or extra tunic, and he deeply regretted it now.

He wondered absently if Elladan and Elrohir had returned to the house yet…whether any of them were concerned about their little human charge. ‘Probably not,’ he thought, shivering too hard to talk out loud to himself. ‘They’ll probably be happy not to have to bother with me.’

Elrond paused, wiping the rainwater away from his face and squinting into the rain. He wondered if there was any hope in the pouring rain of finding the errant boy. His hope was beginning to lag after almost a full day of searching with no results. An idea struck him, and he acted on it instinctively. Cupping both hands around his mouth, he shouted the boy’s name as loudly as he could, the sound echoing off the distant mountains.

Elladan and Elrohir heard the call and paused, listening with bated breath.

Estel heard the faintest echo of a call and listened hard, trying to catch the sound. It had sounded oddly like his name, as strange as that was. But no…there it was again: his father’s voice calling his name. Estel knew his voice wasn’t strong enough to call back, so he put his trembling fingers to his lips and blew two sharp whistles, waited an instant, then blew two more.

Elrond heard the whistles plainly and smiled for the first time in hours. That was Estel’s personal signal that he used to identify himself in tracking games. “Where are you?” he hollered through his cupped hands.

Estel heard the question, but hesitated. He knew how to blow locations in whistle signal, but this particular location was complicated to explain. At last, he put his fingers to his lips again and blew a series of complicated directions, being very specific. At the end of the directions, he added a series of wry notes.

Elrond memorized the directions as they were sent, and actually laughed aloud at the meaning of Estel’s last message. If it was translated, it could mean, “Hurry up, willya?”

Estel’s location actually wasn’t far from where Elrond stood at that moment. Pulling his hood down–the rain was stopping at last–the Elf Lord struck out in the direction Estel had told him to go. He knew Elladan and Elrohir would be heading that direction as well, and he hoped to beat them there.

His wish was granted. As Elrond entered the clearing, his eyes fixed on the small, wet form curled into a hollowed tree. Even from across the tiny clearing, Elrond could see plainly that Estel was shaking uncontrollably. Crossing the distance with two long strides, Elrond collected the small boy into his arms, wrapping his own cloak about the shivering frame.

Elladan and Elrohir entered the clearing nearly together, their eyes worried. Elladan noted his small human brother’s uncontrollable shaking and, removing the cloak that draped nearly elegantly about his shoulders, tucked it tightly about Estel. Elrohir followed his brother’s cue. As Elrohir started to pull away, his hand brushed against Estel’s forehead and his brows jumped together with an almost audible click.

Not wanting to jump to conclusions, the younger twin pressed the back of his hand against Estel’s forehead and winced a bit. “Ada, he is burning up,” Elrohir said, worry in his tone.

“N-n-n-n-not!” Estel’s voice was just a croak in his throat as he struggled to make himself understood. “S-s-s-so c-c-c-cold!”

“Oh no,” Elrond whispered, resting his own cool hand on Estel’s burning forehead. “Elrohir, run ahead and get out everything I will need for pneumonia. Elladan, go with him and get Estel’s room ready. I will be along as soon as may be.”

The twins nodded and took off for the house; Elrohir throwing worried glances over his shoulder. Changing his grip on the painfully small child, Elrond rose and began heading for the house as quickly as he could. He had more than one occasion to bless the strength in his blood as he nearly tripped, unable to really see where he was going. At last, he reached the Last Homely House and smiled, relieved to see it.

Elladan and Elrohir met him at the door. By that point, Estel was shaking so hard that it was hard for the Elf Lord to keep a hold on him. Elladan and Elrohir helped him carry the slender human to his room, undress him from his muddy clothes and wrap him in clean, warm blankets.

Elladan headed into the herb room to make up the teas he knew his father would need soon. Elrohir built up the fire, trying to dispel the lingering chill from the rain.

Minutes slipped into hours without any of the healers noticing. Sometime during the late watches of the night, Estel took a turn for the worst, sliding into delirious dreams. Most of his speech was impossible to understand, but occasionally Estel was understandable… and Elrond wished he wasn’t. It mostly consisted of pleas in Elvish, such as, “Ú-awartha sí erui nin, Ada!” or “Man agornin?” Occasionally, the twins would see their father turn away for a moment, tears glistening in his eyes before turning back to quietly try to reassure the boy in the same language. Do not leave me here alone, Daddy! What have I done?

As the sun began barely peeping above the mountains, Elrond sent his exhausted sons to get some rest. The three healers had done everything they could, even to the point of pouring their strength into Estel. Elladan and Elrohir had quietly insisted that they were the ones that needed to do that, as failure would leave them as limp as overcooked noodles and they could not risk the most experienced healer draining himself so thoroughly. Elrond had finally conceded to their point and allowed them to try. There seemed to be a void in Estel that sucked the strength out of the twins, but that strength made no effect on Estel’s body.

Shortly before his sons left, drooping with both exhaustion and heart-rending disappointment, Estel slipped into a coma, barely breathing and not moving at all.

Elrond kept vigil, his grey eyes barely even blinking as he stared down at his young human son. In his heart, Elrond knew the boy was dying, and there was nothing he could do. That helplessness tore at his heart with every barely perceptible breath Estel took.

Elrond knew that the only one who could help Estel now was Ilúvatar, the Creator, often called by men Eru. Slipping from his chair to his knees beside Estel’s bed, the Elf Lord rested both hands on the bed and began praying softly.

“Ilúvatar,” he whispered, not quite sure what to say. “I am at a complete loss. I have done everything I know to do in myself. Please…” he hesitated for an instant, and then, driven by his intense love for that boy, asked softly, but so very intensely, “Can you hear me? Am I getting through tonight? Can you see him? Can you make him feel all right?”

Elrond’s spirit thrilled as he felt the Divine attention shifting to listen to him. Reassured, he continued, “You *can* hear me. Let me take his place of hell! See…” Elrond stopped, unable to speak through his tears for an instant. “He is not just anyone,” he choked out after a moment. “He is my son.”

Something changed in that room. Elrond knew he would never be able to describe it well enough to give it justice, but his spirit knew, and rejoiced. It was as if the purest water flooded from above to cover Elrond and young Estel in the bed beside him, splashing and dancing in pure joy.

Caught up in that joy, Elrond almost missed it when Estel’s eyes opened, his silver-blue eyes lit up from the inside. As if in a dream, Estel sat up and whispered, “Ada?”

“Estel!” Elrond cried, tears of joy running down his face. He reached out and collected the boy to himself, hugging him fiercely.//

A hand gently touched Elrond’s face, startling him out of his memories. Looking down, he saw Estel, his hand wet with Elrond’s tears, looking up at him. “U-nalla, Ada,” he whispered. Don’t cry, Daddy.

Elrond smiled through his tears and ruffled the boy’s hair. “Not all weeping is evil, Estel,” he said quietly. “Your life was spared that night by Ilúvatar’s hand alone. If he had not intervened…” the Elf Lord could not finish. “My tears are tears of joy, for I would have lost a priceless treasure if He had not stepped in.”

Estel’s brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of that. At last, he decided to just take it at face value and smiled. “I am glad I was not lost, then,” he said quietly.

“So am I, tithen Estel. So am I.” Elrond replied, holding the boy to himself in a gentle hug. Little Estel, or Little Hope//

Aragorn turned back from the window, tears spilling down his weathered cheeks. “It is worth a shot,” he murmured to himself, striding back to his son’s bedside. Kneeling, he took both of the small, limp hands in one of his own.

“Ilúvatar,” he said quietly, feeling very much out of his depth. Taking a deep breath, he continued, “I’m down on my knees again tonight…hoping this prayer will turn out right. See…this boy needs your help. I’ve done all that I can do myself.” Remembering the words his father had prayed over him, Aragorn hesitated for only a moment before tilting his head to look to the heavens and cry, “Can you hear me? Am I getting through tonight? Can you see him? Can you make him feel all right?”

As his father had told him, all those years ago, Aragorn felt a shift in the Divine attention. Not quite sure if that was good or bad, Aragorn continued stubbornly, “You *can* hear me. Let me take his place of hell! See, he’s not just anyone…” Aragorn stopped, his tears overwhelming him. “He’s my son,” he finally managed to choke out, his tears spilling over his son’s hands.

Aragorn waited, his breath bated, for something–anything!–to change. Nothing happened. “Please…” Aragorn whispered. “Don’t take him.”

“Ada?” The voice was small and cracked, but to Aragorn, it was the most beautiful sound in the world. He looked down…into the grey eyes of his son, open and lucid. “Ada, why are you crying?” Eldarion asked, his tone plaintive. “U-nalla.”

At that soft plea, Aragorn’s heart seemed to explode with love. “Oh Eldarion, ion-nin,” he murmured, carefully gathering the young teenager into his arms.

A gentle hand rested on Aragorn’s shoulder, and the King looked up…into the last face he expected to see. “Legolas? What are you doing here? How long have you been in here?” Aragorn’s questions, as hurried as they were, were spoken in a soft whisper, not wanting to disturb his son. Eldarion had slipped into a natural, deep, healing sleep.

Legolas smiled at all the quiet questions. “I have been in this room for most of the night,” he replied softly, sinking to the ground beside the King. “Arwen passed me in the halls hours ago and told me what was happening. She asked if I would just stay in the background and lend my strength, should it be needed.”

“Ah…but why are you in Minas Tirith at all? Not that I’m not happy to see you, but I didn’t expect to see you.” Aragorn said, carefully disentangling himself from Eldarion’s sleeping grip and standing up, gripping Legolas’ shoulder for support.

Legolas stood up gracefully and grinned at his friend, the sinking moon catching his perfect teeth. “You have forgotten all ready?”

“Forgotten what?” Aragorn was genuinely confused now.

“We planned this months ago. You must have been truly distracted recently,” Legolas teased. “Remember? We planned that Gimli and myself come up and spend a few months with you. Gimli is in his quarters, settling in.”

Aragorn smacked himself on the forehead, wincing slightly as his headache throbbed in protest. “I completely spaced it, mellon. I’m sorry.”

“Do not be sorry,” Legolas chuckled, leading the King out of his son’s bedroom. “I remembered, and Gimli remembered, and we are here. But you…” the Elf Prince paused and looked his friend over with a critical eye. “You are practically dead on your feet, Human. You need to sleep.”

“But what if Eldarion wakes up? And I have audiences in an hour,” Aragorn protested, bracing himself against the doorpost and looking out the window. The sun was coming up, visible in the window that faced east.

“I can stay here with Eldarion,” Legolas retorted, pushing the man with gentle pressure on his shoulders and back. “And Arwen is fully capable of handling audiences for one day. Just think of what your people would say, seeing their King barely able to sit on his own throne.”

That did the trick. “Evil Elf,” Aragorn muttered, supporting himself on his friend’s shoulders.

Legolas guided the Human into his bedchamber and dropped him onto the bed. “Sleep, you filthy Human,” he smiled, dragging the coverlet over the prone Man.

Arwen, dressed in a soft sleeping robe, smiled at the two friends as she scooted over to her husband’s side, pulling the coverlet over him better. “You go on, Legolas,” she said quietly. “He will sleep.”

“Hannon le, hiril nin,” Legolas said, a grin touching his lips. Thank you, my Lady. Bowing slightly to the exhausted King and the amused Queen, he exited the room and settled himself in Aragorn’s chair beside the bed. His blue eyes shining in the sunlight, he watched Eldarion as the teenager slept.

In his bed, Aragorn relaxed against Arwen, his thoughts both with his son and far in the past. He knew he was blessed. His son had been returned to him, his friends were under his roof, and his kingdom was at peace. That in mind, he drifted off. His last conscious thought was ‘Thank you, Ilúvatar.’

The End

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