Blood of a Brother: Tried and True by Elena Roan|
Disclaimer: Don’t own any of them, written purely for enjoyment.
Rating: KTimeline: III 2951, Estel 20 years old
‘How did this happen?’ Was one question on the young man’s mind as he bathed the forehead of the extremely feverish elf in front of him. It was followed quickly by, ‘How do I fix this?’
While they could all take care of themselves, if they found trouble it was usually him in that position with one of the others in his current one. Somehow not only did he escape from the encounter with the orcs uninjured, but both of his companions had been poisoned.
A faint noise brought his attention to the other elf and he reached out to both reassure him he wasn’t alone and keep him lying down.
Grey eyes blinked at him for a moment before remembrance flooded them and the elf tried to sit up.
“Stay still, I cannot deal with both of you at once.”
The soft-spoken words caused the elf to freeze then lie back down, turning his head to look at the other elf.
“How is he?”
“High fever.” He replied candidly, “I examined both of you. There were three darts. You had one dart in you and Elrohir had two. I do believe it is a very good chance that the darts were poisoned.”
Elladan nodded in agreement then squeezed his eyes shut as he instantly regretted the jerky movement.
“Elladan?” Estel asked softly in concern.
The elf stayed silent for a moment while he battled his rebellious body, before quietly conceding defeat in a pained whisper, “I am going to be sick...”
Estel quickly put the damp cloth on Elrohir’s forehead then slid an arm underneath his other brother’s shoulders, lifting and supporting him as he finally lost the battle with his body.
Once he was done he dunked another cloth in the water and wiped Elladan’s face, changing the cloth on Elrohir’s forehead as he did so.
Lying Elladan down again he gently rolled him onto his side, taking care to position him so he could see Elrohir without needing to move his head.
“Have you discovered what poison it is?” Elladan asked quietly, already anticipating a negative answer for it was unfamiliar to him.
Estel shook his head, “And it does not respond to any of the normal treatments either.”
All they really knew was that it was slow acting. Elrohir had collapsed soon after the battle had finished, but Elladan had not shown any signs until after they had moved to a more defensible area to treat Elrohir and then he had collapsed as well. The delay was explained when Estel had found the darts on examining both of them.
Elladan remembered the fear that had shot through him when his twin’s eyes had rolled up and his legs had buckled. He couldn’t remember his own collapse and his heart went out to his human brother for having to see both.
Elladan suspected that Elrohir getting a double dose had been a mistake on the orcs part and that the third dose had been intended for Estel. If they had all been dosed they would have been on the move when the effects manifested, causing them to collapse in the open and none of them being able to care for or defend the others. He stayed quiet on his theory; the speculation would not help any of them and would only serve to upset Estel.
He felt darkness closing in on him again and struggled to stay awake and alert, the faint sounds drawing Estel’s gaze to him again.
“How do you feel, muindor nín (my brother)?” Estel asked quietly.
“Like yrch (orcs) used me for a pincushion.” Elladan mumbled in reply then sighed, “I will not be able to stay conscious much longer muindor dithen (little brother).”
“Then rest, I will watch over both of you.”
“Wake me if I am needed.” Elladan mumbled as his eyelids fluttered closed.
Estel glanced at him wondering just how his brother expected him to do that.
The first thing Elrohir was aware of was an overwhelming nausea. Even as his body rebelled he felt soothing hands lift him and hold him gently.
He wilted back against the one holding him as the violence left him, slowly registering the voices around him, hearing them as if from a long way away.
“El!” That was his twin’s voice.
“Stay down Elladan, or you will trigger a repeat of earlier and I cannot be in two places at once!” That was his human brother’s voice...wait...Elladan was injured?
Feeling like each one weighed a ton he forced his eyes open. He blinked a few times to adjust his eyes to the light and found himself looking up at Estel. After looking at him with confusion for a moment he began to turn his head to find Elladan, only to have the motion stopped by his human brother.
“You do not want to move your head too fast, Elrohir.” Estel murmured quietly.
“Very well.” Elrohir replied, and was surprised at how weak he sounded. “What happened?”
“What do you remember?”
“We got into a tussle with some yrch (orcs). After they died or fled, I...I remember no more.”
“You collapsed.” Estel explained candidly, “There were two darts in you when I examined you.”
“Gave us both quite a scare, gwanunig nín (my twin).” Elladan put in from his position on the ground.
“What happened to Elladan?”
“He had one dart in him; he collapsed once we got you here.”
Elrohir looked confused and he had to wonder if it was his injured state making everything not make sense. “Why would they put two in me and only one in El?”
“Trying to figure out the why and wherefore is pointless. They are yrch (orcs); they have no rhyme or reason.” Elladan replied before Estel could even consider the question.
“I guess someone has been thinking about it.” Estel commented then looked down at Elrohir again, “Do you feel up to lying down again?”
“Yes.” Elrohir replied, “What is with the caution against moving my head?”
“When Elladan woke up, he nodded in response to something I said. Then promptly vomited. He has the same poison in him, but you have a double dose.”
“Oh.” Was all Elrohir’s reply as Estel gently laid him down on his side.
Estel was near his wit’s end. He’d exhausted his small supply of herbs trying to treat the twins but the poison stubbornly refused to respond to any of them that he tried and the twins were slowly spiraling downhill.
Completely out of options he raided the twins’ healing kits in the hope that they carried some different herbs. With the exception of one they carried the same herbs as he, and that one he had never been taught how to use.
Putting it aside he continued with what he was doing to try and lower both their fevers. As he worked his eyes kept being drawn back to the vibrant green leaves.
Finally unable to resist his instinct any longer he dropped a few of them into a small bowl of boiling water, filling the area with a sweat scent, and continued his ministrations. He was surprised to note an almost immediate upturn in their conditions.
Elrohir was the first to return to consciousness several hours later. The first indications coming when he frowned in confusion upon smelling the scent then forced his eyes open.
“How do you feel, muindor nín (my brother)?” Estel asked softly when he was sure Elrohir was reasonably alert.
“Better.” Elrohir answered, easing himself up to half sit half recline, his eyes coming to rest on the bowl of boiling water and leaves. “Did Elladan do that?”
“No...I...uh...neither of you were responding...it was the only thing I had not tried...did I do wrong?” Estel stammered in reply, half reaching towards the bowl in preparation to tip it out if Elrohir said he had.
Elrohir’s eyes widened in shock before quickly rushing to reassure his human brother.
“No, you did fine. I...I was surprised, I did not think you had been taught how to use Athelas yet.”
Elrohir was stunned when Estel instead of looking relived looked at the ground and appeared to be ashamed. He barely caught his next words.
“I have not been taught.” Estel mumbled, “I just...I could not...I had to do something, I could not let you die...I should not have risked it...I...”
Unable to bear the self remonstration any longer Elrohir reached forward and gripped his arm, effectively silencing the man and bringing his eyes to meet his. Something Elrohir found himself wishing hadn’t happened as those eyes were filled to the brim with tears.
“Forgive me.” Estel whispered before Elrohir could say anything.
“There is nothing to forgive, muindor nín (my brother). You did that on instinct?”
Estel looked down at his hands and nodded.
A slight noise that passed Estel unnoticed drew Elrohir’s attention to his twin, who was now staring at the two of them with wide eyes. Briefly they locked eyes.
‘Did I hear that correctly? He used Athelas instinctively to save us?’
‘You heard correctly, gwanunig nín (my twin).’
‘...Am I dreaming?’
‘We have GOT to tell ada.’
‘Yes; though I do NOT want to tell Estel of the significance of what he just did. You know his opinion of Isildur.’
‘We will leave THAT task to ada and pray all goes well.’
With that Elladan sat up fully, garnering Estel’s attention.
“Elladan, how do you feel?”
“Distinctly better then I did before, thank you muindor nín (my brother).”
Estel smiled slightly at him.
It was several days before they began the, thankfully uneventful, journey home. And several more before they entered the gates of Imladris again.
Glorfindel met them as they arrived.
“You have returned, we were just about to send out a party after you.” He stated with a wide smile.
The twins chuckled, “You always did worry unnecessarily.”
Glorfindel noticed that Estel didn’t join in the mirth and even appeared rather subdued. Elrond arrived before he could decide whether to comment on it or not.
“You have changed.” Elrond stated, after pausing for a moment to study them then changed the subject, sensing that it was not one to be touched upon just yet. “Do any of you need to visit the healing rooms?”
The twins shook their heads.
“No ada.” Elrohir replied, then glanced at Elladan. Elrond waited patiently while they came to a decision.
“Ada, may I speak with you?” Elladan eventually asked.
“Of course.” Elrond replied, frowning in concern as Estel’s shoulders visibly slumped.
Elrohir stepped up next to the young man and placed his hand on his shoulder, “You did nothing wrong.”
“I should have known better then to risk it.” Estel replied, shrugging the elf’s hand off, then turned and left the courtyard.
“What has happened?” Elrond asked as Elrohir’s shoulders also slumped.
“We...” Elladan started, then paused and took a breath before plunging into the tale, “we ran into some orcs. Both Elrohir and myself were poisoned, Estel saved us.”
Elrond studied them both intently, “What aren’t you saying?”
“He used Athelas to do so.” Elrohir stated.
Elrond blinked, “Did one of you show or tell him how to?”
Elrohir shook his head as Elladan answered, “No, we were both unconscious at the time.”
“Then how did he know?”
“Instinct.” Elrohir answered, “He feels he did something wrong in acting as he did. I...I cannot convince him otherwise.”
Elrond glanced at the garden entrance where Estel had disappeared, “His bloodline and that plant are too tightly intertwined, and his hands are those of a healer. I had not thought to face this day so soon. I had hoped we could prepare him for the knowledge of his heritage first. But the day is upon us; we can but deal with it. I shall find him and speak with him. Pray he will find peace with what I shall speak of.”
Both twins nodded as Elrond turned towards the garden to find Estel. He found him rather easily, the young man not even attempting hide. He was just waiting, seated with his back to the entrance.
“Estel? May I speak with you?” Elrond asked gently, and felt pain slice through his heart as he saw the shoulders of the son of his heart droop even more.
Estel turned towards him and Elrond could see despair, defeat and devastation warring for supremacy in his eyes.
“You did nothing wrong, ion nín (my son).” He stated softly, “I was foolish to try to hide that herb from you.”
When Estel didn’t reply he continued, “Please, walk with me.”
Estel nodded silently and Elrond led the way towards his study. As they walked Elrond quietly spoke.
“I know all you see of the deeds of Isildur is his failure with the ring.”
“Any good deeds he did were undone when he took the ring.” Estel stated firmly.
Elrond sighed softly, “I wish you saw it differently, ion nín (my son).”
“Why? And why are we speaking of this now?” Estel looked at him with that penetrating gaze he had always had, “I expected you to give me a lecture about not using herbs that are unknown to me.”
“Even if I intended to, I would not for you are doing much too good a job at it. Your instincts guided you, and your instincts were right. And even if they were not, days away from aid they were dead anyway. Taking that chance was the only hope they had, I thank you for risking your peace of mind to save them.”
Estel looked at Elrond surprised and only registered that they had arrived at Elrond’s study when he opened the door and motioned him in.
Elrond motioned towards a chair, “Sit, would you like a drink?”
“No thank you, ada (dad).” Estel replied, looking confused and a little wary.
“Very well.” Elrond replied, moving to his desk and opening the locked drawer.
Estel looked on curiously as Elrond extracted a sword in its scabbard and something small enough to be hidden in his hand.
“What are they, ada (dad)?” He asked softly.
Elrond smiled gently and placed them on the top so Estel could see them unobstructed.
“This is Narsil, the Sword that was Broken.” He stated as he put the scabbard down, “and this is the Ring of Barahir. Long did the Heirs of Isildur carry these in the wild, never forgetting their purpose or task. I have kept them when they are unable. Long have the heirs been fostered here at Imladris, for kin we are though the connection is now distant.”
“But the Heirs have all passed, as has the weakness of their blood.”
“Not all and not all are weak. Many a strong leader has there been amongst them, though the strongest is yet to come, one who could face the test of The Ring and pass.”
Estel looked unhappy, “So you are saying there is an heir still alive out there?”
“The previous heir, Arathorn, came to the Chieftainship early by Dúnedain standards, married early...and died early. Leaving behind his wife, Gilraen, and infant son.”
Elrond could feel his heart break as he watched realization sink into his adopted son’s mind and heart, a look of utter devastation coming to settle on Estel’s face.
“Your real name is Aragorn. I knew from the moment I saw you that there was much strength, as yet untapped, residing within you. It was not whim that I named you Estel when you came here, and you proved that true when you used Athelas to heal your brothers.” Elrond took a breath, sadly, knowing there was nothing he could say to ease the pain in his son’s heart, “I wished to postpone the day of telling you of your heritage and kept Athelas from you to that end. I was foolish and caused heartache and near tragedy by doing so.”
“None of it is your fault, ad...hír Elrond. If blame and fault lie with anyone it lies with me. Forgive me, I shall take my leave.”
The young man rose and left before Elrond could say another word, leaving the sword and ring still on the table.
Elrond gave a sigh that sounded distinctly defeated before a faint sound drew his attention back to the door. One of the twins stood there and as upset as he was it took him a few moments to figure out which one it was.
“How did it go, ada (dad)?”
“About as well as expected.” Elrond replied sadly.
“He will need time to come to terms with it.”
“Yes, time and love.” Elrond looked back at the sword and ring then carefully put them back in the locked drawer, “When he is ready, he can have these.”
Elladan nodded and put a hand on Elrond’s shoulder.
“I shall go get Elrohir and we shall find Estel. I pray we will be able to ease the pain in his heart.”
Elrond nodded and watched his eldest child leave the room.