Between Freedom and Loyalty

More Reason than Before

A pregnant silence stretched on in Elrond's spacious sitting rooms. He continued to observe the elleth as she sat, absorbing the secret he had just revealed. She blinked once. Twice. Her face was frustratingly blank, as Elrond was desperate to hear what she was thinking.

Lainien was overwhelmed. Surprised first, naturally, that there was truly an heir to the crownless throne of men. Excited next, knowing that she would be able to help restore the throne. But then frightened, as she thought of the danger the small child had looming over him. He would be hunted, sought after by men wishing to keep the status quo, and by evils wanting to destabilize the reign of men.

Just as she was accepting the fear for the child she had come to love dearly, she was taken aback by a stabbing feeling of betrayal. Her Lady had known her son's importance, and she hadn't told her. In fact, the Lady had kept her mind off of the topic deliberately to avoid Lainien's gifts.

Elrond's patience finally broke. "What say you?" He asked softly.

Lainien broke free from her confusing thoughts and focused on Elrond.

"What is there to say?" She asked, her voice low and steady, trying to curb her emotions.

"Do you wish to stay, knowing the danger of being his protector?"

"I find now I have more reason to stay than before. He is a king; he deserves protection."

"But," he said, his voice lowering, "what of Isildur's bane? What of the weakness that the child holds in his blood for power? What if you aren't protecting him from danger, but protecting the world against him?"

She stiffened immediately at his words. Elrond had to see for himself her reaction to this idea. This was important in so many ways. Not only would it be crucial in overcoming the whispers of doubt in the minds of others when young Aragorn came to power, but she would need to reassure him against this idea when it plagued his own thoughts. Elrond had to know that the elf didn't believe in this weakness.

"There is no weakness in blood." She said, eyes aflame and sparkling with indignant rage. "The failures of one in his line will not condemn him to the same fault. A child born should not live with the mistake of his forefathers, nor suffer through the consequences. He is his own man, not Isildur."

Elrond smiled brightly, confusing Lainien and setting her of the defensive. Would he reject her words, argue against her?

"I am glad you and I agree on this matter." Elrond said, still smiling. "And now you know, if you did not already, why I have granted you passage and protection here in Imladris. You are not your father, Lainien. Nor would I have you suffer in his stead for his actions." He ended quietly, no longer smiling, but looking at her earnestly. "I will do what I can to protect you from those who do not share our perspective."

At this, he brought his left hand up with exaggerated slowness, with plenty of time for her to follow his hand, guess his intentions, and pull away, if she desired. She did not, and he gently rested his large palm against the side of her face that was bruised.

"I wish you would not suffer at the hands of your own kind." He whispered to her gently, with great sadness in his eyes.

Lainien closed her eyes and allowed the older elf to show his care for her. It had been centuries since she felt paternal love and care, and many more centuries since someone had protected her.

She opened her mind to him slightly to sense his emotions, and was reassured and heartened by the strong affection Elrond felt for her. This small selfishness, she reasoned, would strengthen her resolve and enable her to continue here in a place where she wasn't welcomed.

She closed the connection and opened her eyes. He had lowered his hand, and was now turning back to sit in his chair. There was more to discuss, after all.

The two sat and decided that Aragorn would stay, be given another name, and grow up unaware of his lineage, as would the rest of the elves. Only when he came of age would he be told so he could choose his path.

"There is one more thing to discuss." He called to her as Lainien made to leave his chambers. She stopped and looked back, an eyebrow raised.

"While we have not told, nor will tell, many about Aragorn's lineage," he began, and Lainien's brow rose further, "there are several who know." Lainien fully turned back to him now, waiting.

"I have told Lady Galadriel, though she doubtless knew before I," he added with a small chuckle, "the wizard Gandalf, a very old and trusted friend, and King Thranduil of Mirkwood." He finished, watching her for a reaction closely, knowing of their history.

Lainien blinked. He had come now to signify the action as a sign of overwhelming emotion.

He was quite correct. The elf was part angry, afraid, and saddened at the memories she associated with the King of the Woodland Realm. In the end, she decided that, despite her scruples and history with the elf, as a king, he had the right to know this information.

"I see no issues with that." She stated finally.

"I am glad," Elrond said, "as each will be sending an ambassador of theirs to meet with young Aragorn and report back."

"I will tell my Lady. When will they arrive?" She asked calmly.

"The ambassador from Mirkwood will arrive soon, as he was nearby when I wrote his King on the matter." He said.

"Good. I will have the Lady prepare soon."

"Please tell her that she will be introducing her son to Price Legolas of Mirkwood by the end of the moth." He said, waiting for her reaction with a devilish smile on his face.

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