Disclaimer & other ramblings: see some previous chapter
As this is the end of the story (for real) I'd like to thank a few very special people and give them some extra (and much deserved!) attention:
Anita H, Belothien, Cathy, Elladan, Emmithar, Kaeera, Kawaii Bluebear, leggylover03, Lita of Jupiter, Puck, SperryDee – Thank you so much, melloneamin! You're the best reviewers one could wish for! *pinks away a tear*
This chapter is dedicated to you *points at the person who is reading this*
A/N: Well, this is it I guess. The final chapter. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to write after AES: YF but I'll let you know on my Bio. (I honestly believe this are my shortest a/n ever!)
Lita of Jupiter – *squeals in delight* thank you! LOL! I just love those comments of yours! Ah, about the Black Speech, well, frankly that's quite a good question. Let's just pretend that this is a random band of orcs, and its members are all different kinds of orcs and that they all speak in their own 'dialect' of Black Speech… or something like that…
Emmithar – Well, I suppose I told you all that needs to be told in my mail. So all that's left to say is: read, relax and enjoy the last chapter!
Belothien – *grins* Blij dat ik je dag weer een beetje kon opvrolijken! En ja, ik weet het, sweet mushy family love is the best! Wat betreft Mr Strider… zolang er maar überhaupt vooruitgang is, hè? En ik zal binnenkort eens kijken naar die vertaling! *g*
Joshua Nenya – Thank you for your kind words and I hope you like the end!
SperryDee – *g* I'd like to meet your brother then, if he even slightly resembles Estel… Anyway, thanks for reviewing!
Faila Gamgee of Sandy Downs – *cowers in front of Faila's wrath* I'm writing, I'm writing… in fact, I've already written! *g*
Anita H – Het is niet te geloven, maar ik de trailer nog niet gezien… I know, shame on me! *g* Anyway, ik hoop dat het einde niet tegenvalt!
* * * * * * * * indicates the passing of time
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ indicates it is the beginning (or ending) of a memory/flash forward to a possible future (you'll understand when you read it… I hope)
//parts written in italics// indicates a flashbackChapter ten part two
'I would like to speak to you about something you said while you were still running a fever,' Elrond said, a serious expression on his fair face.
Estel shot him a puzzled look. 'I don't understand.'
'You were delirious and at a certain moment you mentioned a name… Arathorn.'
The Human lowered his head. 'I… I know he was my real father,' he said; then blushed furiously and hastily added: 'My human father, I mean.'
Elrond nodded gently, reassuring the boy that he had not offended him and that he understood perfectly what Estel was saying.
'I saw him when I was in the orc camp, when they were all fighting. I crawled away and hid and suddenly I was no longer looking at the orc camp, but a different one, one with Humans.'
He looked down in shame, slightly unsure of his father's reaction, but Elrond put a crooked finger under his chin and lifted his head until their eyes met. 'My son, do not ever feel shame for telling the truth.'
'You believe me then?' Estel asked, surprise written all over his face.
Elrond chuckled lightly. 'Of course I do.' His eyes turned serious. 'I always will, Estel, as long as you tell the truth I will always believe you.'
Estel felt as if a heavy weight had lifted from his heart, one he had not even noticed he carried along, and after giving Elrond a quick hug, he continued his tale. 'When I was in that other camp, Humans and orcs were fighting and then I saw a man who was calling for a woman whose name was Gilraen. She answered him and called him Arathorn. Somehow I knew these names and I remembered something else, a conversation.'
Though Estel was still in his bed, his eyes had gotten a bit glazed as in his mind he was back in that camp. 'Mommy brought me to a tent and then she made me promise not to come out, no matter what would happen. And then…' he stopped, as his throat contracted and tears threatened to fall.
Elrond pulled him into a hug and rubbed his back as the boy started to cry on his ada's shoulder.
'And then she told me she loved me and… and,' Estel sobbed. 'That was the last thing she ever said to me because she and daddy died.'
Elrond held his son as the boy grieved for his parents and continued to soothe him.
After a while Estel calmed down and Elrond felt the boy was ready to answer some questions. 'I need to know, Estel, do you blame me for not telling you about the deaths of your parents?'
'No,' Estel said calmly.
At his father's mildly surprised look, he added, 'I would not have been ready. Somehow I know this was the way I had to learn the truth.'
They sat in silence for a while, Elrond amazed at the adulthood of his youngest son. 'He is special indeed, for as long as I have laid eyes on the descendants of Isildur, I have never known one to be so gifted on such a young age.'
'Still,' the Lord of Rivendell said, after a while. 'This does not explain everything. While you were delirious you seemed to be in great doubt.'
Estel was silent, trying to figure out how he should put in words what he had experienced while being ill. 'I did not know who I was,' he finally said. 'Since I had learned about my human parents I did not really know where I belonged.'
He fell silent, after admitting these painful words.
'You did not know whether you belonged in the world of the Eldar or the world of the Edain,' Elrond said softly.
At Estel's nod, he continued. 'Though you might not be the son of my blood you are the son of my heart and that is what truly counts. I do not want to force you to choose between your blood parents or us, but you must understand that to Elladan, Elrohir and me you will always be family. And though it would sadden us greatly we would not blame you for wanting to be part of the Edain world.'
As he said these words a sudden feeling of dread filled him and a vision of Estel, a couple of years older than he was now, appeared in front of his mind's eye.
Aragorn looked a little haggard and he was surrounded by Rangers, his face was grim and his eyes were dull, empty of the Hope that always shone in them. As he saw the Rangers ride towards an encampment that resembled a small Human town, the Lord of Rivendell watched a young woman, barely out of her girlhood, desperately seeking for someone. As she did not seem to find the person, she approached Aragorn and looked up at him hopefully and asked whether her beloved one had survived. The man that once had been his son looked at the woman, his eyes not revealing any emotion.
'No, he's dead,' he said without compassion.
Without looking back he rode on, consciously leaving behind a broken being.
Before Elrond could react the scene changed. He was now looking at an image of Aragorn in battle. The man methodically eliminated his enemies, however no passion or conviction were behind his thrusts; appearing to be totally devoid of any emotion at all. Left of him another Ranger was in danger, yet Aragorn did not help him inconsiderate of himself, as Estel would have done any time. Aragorn disposed of his opponent and then turned to kill the other orc, but it was too late. His fellow ranger had already been mortally wounded and lay on the ground. But still Aragorn did not offer him some relief by staying to offer some last comfort; he did not stay with the man to quench his fears of the unknown of death.
Again the scene changed. This was much further in the future and Aragorn looked truly wild and unpleasantly dangerous now and there were even some grey hairs in his dark mob. He was in the company of nine other beings including Mithrandir and four Periannath! They seemed to be walking in the wild and Aragorn was walking at the end of the line, just behind one of the Periannath. Every once in a while the man glanced at the smaller being with a strange glint in his eye.
A fast forward and he saw Aragorn advancing on the hobbit, no one else seemed to be near. Pulling out his sword, Aragorn threatened the Periannath.
'Give it to me, now!' he bellowed. 'It is my inheritance! It belongs to me!'
Cowering back the Hobbit looked at Aragorn with contempt in his eyes. 'It answers to one Master only, and that is not you! Have you learned nothing?'
'Don't dare try to tell me what I have learned or what I should have learned! I have seen more in my life than you ever will in your entire lifetime. I have learned everything I could from my race.'
'Then I'd say that your race was not enough for you to even learn the simple distinction between right and wrong.'
In a rage Aragorn raised his sword, ready to strike the defenceless Perriannath…
'Ada?' he suddenly heard Estel's slightly worried voice. 'Are you feeling all right, you look a bit confused.'
'I am fine, my son.'
'As I said, you don't have to worry for I have already made my choice, im Estel Elrondion.'
Elrond smiled, 'I hoped you'd say that as you have also spoken these words aloud just before the potion took effect. However, I realise that you might want to reconsider this choice in years to come and know that you are free to do so. We will not hold you in a cage nor force you into one.'
'I choose a life with you, Ada, I know I will not reconsider my choice for it was not taken lightly.'
At Elrond's quizzical look he explained, 'It was quite an interesting experience, actually. I remember falling asleep while we were on our way home and then I suddenly found myself in a desert, completely desolate but for a black tree.'
'A black tree?' repeated Elrond.
'It symbolised my doubt,' Estel explained. 'I don't know how I knew it, but I simply did.'
'As he regained full memory of his life, he must have somehow restored some of the gifts of his inheritance too, there is no other explanation for the fact that he has suddenly become so sensitive to his inner self,' Elrond mused.
'Ada! You are not listening,' Estel's slightly accusing tone broke him out of his thoughts.
'Like I said, there was a voice that kept asking me who I was. First I didn't really want to think about it and simply ignored it but it kept nagging me. It forced me to choose, but I couldn't; I felt like being torn in two. Then while I was shouting that I couldn't choose everything started to fall apart and I was being sucked into some kind of whirlwind, I thought I was going to die and that the tunnel would end in the Halls of Mandos! The voice was still screaming at me to choose and at the last possible moment I chose to be with you, the last thing I saw was that the black tree was uprooted and after that I woke up to see all of you hovering over me.'
He then added with a grin: 'Although I had forgotten that surviving the whirlwind was nothing compared to surviving my family. I was afraid of dying after all as Elladan was smothering me to the brink of strangling!'
'He was a little overenthusiastic, I suppose,' Elrond conceded.
Estel woke up in a cream-coloured room and as he tried to move he discovered that he indeed hurt considerably less than the last time he had woken; his leg ached a little and his head was thumping but it was nothing compared to the agony he had endured in the orc camp. Looking to his left, he saw Elladan sitting on a beautifully carved chair, though it looked slightly uncomfortable.
'ESTEL!' the elder twin roared as he noticed his little brother was awake and pulled him into a fierce hug though careful of the boy's injuries. The dark-haired Elf closed his eyes and thanked the Valar for bringing his Human brother home, alive and relatively well.
Estel sunk into the embrace, simply enjoying the feeling of being loved and cherished. However, after a while he found that breathing was becoming a more difficult task every second.
'Elladan!' shouted a different voice. 'You're almost strangling him!'
Immediately the elder twin let go and looked at Estel who was trying to regain his breath unobtrusively, attempting not to be too obvious.
'I'm sorry, Estel,' the eldest brother said apologetically. 'I didn't think.'
'Well, that's nothing new,' the other voice said teasingly.
Estel turned his head to his right. 'Elrohir!' he shouted delighted and the younger twin bent over to give his little brother a quick but warm hug.
'Good to have you back, little brother. The odds will be in balance again now you are back to help Elladan. He's truly worthless on his own, you know?' he added with a wink.
'What?!' came the indignant reply from Elladan, as he jumped out of his chair. 'I would not be speaking if I were you, dear twin, for…'
'Ellladan,' a quiet voice said. 'Regain your seat and stop your bickering, please, Estel needs rest.'
In his delight of seeing Estel awake Elladan had completely forgotten that his father was still in the room; he immediately sat down again, his face as red as a lobster.
Turning to the other Elf, who was silently snickering at his brother's predicament, Elrond pinned him with a serious stare that had the desired effect and silenced the young Elf immediately. 'That goes for you too, Elrohir.'
Meanwhile the Elf Lord had risen from the comfortable sofa under the window and advanced towards the bed his youngest son was lying in.
Estel had watched his father's every move and as the Lord of Rivendell seated himself on the edge of the bed he let out a content sigh. 'Ada.'
The twins quietly left, leaving the two alone for some much needed privacy.
'Estel,' his father asked, he was not worried by his son's silence as the boy seemed lost in pleasant thoughts. 'What are you thinking of?'
'The conversation we had after I woke up for the first time.'
'Ah, yes,' the Elf Lord went back to that time himself. He had feared that Estel had run away but the small Human had made it clear that he had simply gotten lost and had not been able to find his way home, which was a tremendous relief for secretly Elrond had feared that Estel might have run away from them, not wanting to live in Rivendell any more.
'But what did it mean, ada?' Estel asked returning to their previous subject. 'The dream, I mean.'
'I think it was your mind trying to protect you, unconsciously you knew you had to choose because you had to know who you are. If not, you would always be doubting and struggling with your identity, not being able to make any progress in your personality. As for the desert with the lonely tree, the desert, the empty space, indicated that you had not yet chosen and that you were 'empty' inside, you could only be 'filled' after you had chosen. It also might indicate your loneliness for as long as you did not choose you not really fitted anywhere, not in the Human world, nor here in Rivendell. The black tree, you said yourself, was your doubt.'
Estel's face was wrinkled as he tried to process what his ada had just said. 'I guess that makes sense.'
Elrond let him ponder his words for a while, then decided that the healing should go to another phase. 'What happened when you were captive, my son?' he asked quietly.
//Estel felt cold and wanted to pull the ragged blanket closer but as soon as he moved an excruciating pain coursed through his entire body. His head hurt beyond words and he desperately wished for sleep.//
'I don't remember much,' Estel said avoiding his father's gaze.
//The adan had never been in such pain before and he moaned softly. 'Daro! Please, stop this pain.'//
'Most of the times I was semi-conscious.'
//As Razhluk came closer, Estel couldn't help his fear rising and soon it shone in his eyes. Razhluk smiled at seeing the terror and his mouth twitched into a cruel sadistic smile. Estel started to backpedal from the advancing orc, but soon his back hit something. Looking up, he saw he had bounced against the legs of an orc in which mutilated face he was staring at right now.//
'Estel,' Elrond said softly. 'I know that is not true.'
//Razhluk bent over him…//
Estel hung his head. 'There is not much to talk about.'
//Estel cringed. 'Ada, tua amin,' he thought. 'Please, ada,' he whispered.
'Your ada can't help you! And when he comes to your aid, we will be waiting for him. We will kill him in front of your eyes.'
At Estel's shocked look, he continued. 'Slowly we will take him apart, limb from limb.'//
Gently Elrond raised his youngest son's chin and forced the Human to look into the Elf's eyes. 'I do not believe you, you need to speak about it, it will help you heal. You know you can trust me, don't you?'
Estel closed his eyes, afraid of the tears that threatened to fall, but he was unable to stop one silver tear from gliding down his cheek. In a voice Humans would barely catch but his Elven father had no trouble hearing, he whispered, 'He threatened you, Elladan and Elrohir.'
He then was silent for a moment, caught in memories not long ago.
//'Man flesh!' his captor screamed, pulling Estel towards him. The orc grabbed him in his neck, the sharp nails of his captor biting in the soft flesh of his neck like nails and he whimpered softly.//
His father's touch brought him back to the present and he continued his tale. 'They forced me to drink something, I don't really know what it was. It was hot and somehow I wasn't hungry anymore and I felt much more energetic. But then… then… he, he…'
//'Do you want to play again?'
Estel recognized that voice: it was his captor, Grimkû; all thoughts over bravery vanished. He shook his head in answer to the orc's question. 'No,' he whispered.
'No?' taunted Grimkû. 'What if we'd play a different game then, maybe a fierier one?'//
Elrond hugged his son who was threatening to become lost in his nightmare again closer. Yet the Elf Lord said nothing, not wanting to interrupt the healing, and waited for the Adan to pull himself together so he could continue his tale on his own accord.
Estel took a deep breath. 'Then he grabbed a torch and forced me to look at it but that was still bearable. But then he wanted to do something else, he…'
//He saw Grimkû reaching for something in his belt and when he let it show to Estel, panic gripped the boy. It was a whip, but not just a whip; someone had pushed small nails into it at regular distances, so it would hitch on to the flesh and tear it away. Scared beyond reason, Estel started crawling away frantically.//
Sobs wracked the small body as Estel was reliving past events and his breath hitched as he spoke into the garments of his father. 'I was so scared, ada!'
Elrond pulled his son close to his chest and whispered soothingly. 'Iston, íon nín, iston. But you are safe now, in the arms of your loving family.'
Estel pulled himself together, yet dared not look at his ada's face. 'He then pulled out a whip with nails…'
The boy felt his father stiffen at the words. 'And I crawled away, like a coward!'
'Oh no, my son, there is no cowardice in running from danger. Only the fool hearted would stay if there is nothing to gain and everything to loose. Never confuse bravery with obstinacy.'
The boy was quiet for a moment as he considered what Elrond had told him and then smiled a little smile, as the truth of the words registered. Elrond, being an Elf, had endless patience and simply waited for his son to continue, not pushing him at all.
'But he never stroke, because Razhluk stopped him at the last moment. After that they left me alone and I was so confused! That was when I didn't want you to rescue me,' Estel said and again shame shone in his eyes.
At Elrond's inquiring look, he continued, 'I… I feared they would hurt you, that they would carry out their threats. I could not endanger you or the twins.'
Elrond never ceased to be marvelled by his son's generous character and gave him a loving and proud look. 'That was a very brave thing, íon nín, but there was no need for such thoughts. None of us would rush in to save you headless of their own lives if there would be another way, a way with fewer risks,' the Lord of Rivendell said, conveniently forgetting his own actions during the rescue operation.
Though Estel gave his father a mildly sceptical look, he let it pass, merely muttering something about 'Glorfindel telling quite a different tale' and continued where he had left. 'Then I must have fallen asleep again because the next thing I know is that I was freezing and I feared I had caught a cold. Then I thought I saw Elladan and Elrohir coming for me, but then they turned out to be another pair of orcs. They wanted to,' he hesitated for a moment, not being able to make himself use the word 'torture'. 'They wanted to hurt me, but luckily they got into a fight and then all the orcs were suddenly fighting. I crawled away from the fighting and hid into a pile of blankets where I lay for quite some time and saw mommy and daddy.'
Estel did not elaborate further about the Human camp he had seen in his delirious state, deeming they had covered that topic already. 'Later I managed to get to my feet again and moved into the direction of the shelter of the woods. I lay there hidden but I was so tired and sore that I didn't really register anything, I simply lay there. Then suddenly the orcs were searching for me again and they found me. I thought Razhluk wanted to kill me but then he stabbed me in my thigh, it hurt so much that I passed out and the next thing I remember is when I woke up with Elrohir, Elladan and you.'
Estel did feel a bit better after he had told all that had happened, somehow now he could moderate it. What he had told his father was exactly what had happened to him; and though he would still have numerous nightmares about his ordeal, at least they were lessened to some extent, they would me nightmares, nothing more. However, more important was the fact that he now was no longer alone with his nightmares, his father had heard everything and was in no way disappointed; with his family's help he was sure he would be able to overcome all yesterday's fears.
Elrond said nothing, patiently waiting his son out. He didn't have to wait very long. 'Ada? What happened when I was captured? What did you and the twins do?'
'It is a long tale, are you sure you are up to it?'
Estel only grinned in response and Elrond began telling about all that had conspired when the Human had been missing, although it was a slightly censored tale.
* * * * * * * *
Estel was silent for a long time after Elrond's revelations of what had happened and as he looked at the troubled and far too serious for his age face of his son, the Elven lord sighed, but then the memory of Gandalf leaning over the boy came over him.
'He will be fine, eventually he will be fine.'
'Yes,' thought the Lord of Rivendell. 'Eventually he will be fine.'
Then Estel's stomach grumbled and Elrond stood to leave. 'I'm sorry, I had not realised you were hungry. I will get you something to eat.'
Estel nodded sheepishly. 'All this talking and thinking does make me a little hungry, I suppose,' he responded as his father left the room with a chuckle.
* * * * * * * *
Estel looked up as Elrond came back carefully balancing a plate covered with so much food it must had been quite a job to get it on just one plate.
'Your brothers helped me pick the food,' Elrond offered by way of explanation. 'They wanted to bring it themselves but I sense our conversation is not over yet.'
At Estel's hopeful and slightly worried look he added, 'You will see them tomorrow, and they are fine except for the fact they are a little cranky about the fact they were not allowed to see you.'
Estel laughed and picked up a spoon to begin with a tasty looking vegetable soup.
'Ada?' Estel asked after he had quenched his worst hunger.
'Why… why did they not… kill me?'
Elrond sighed. 'I do not know that answer myself, I hoped you could maybe tell me.'
'I don't know either, all I did was look into Razhluk's eyes and then he told them not to kill me.'
Elrond looked up sharply. 'What?'
Slightly frightened by his father's reaction Estel repeated slightly defensively. 'I only looked into Razhluk's eyes,' he said, then added softly: 'I think I saw fear in his eyes.'
Elrond stared out of the window. 'Maybe they did know Estel is the Heir, but then again, had they known they wouldn't have taken such risks.'
Aloud he said, 'My only explanation is that Razhluk saw something in you that interested him and made him believe to be interesting for the Dark Lord too.'
'Ada, there is something else I need to tell you, I forgot about it earlier but now it came back to me. When I was at the orc camp Razhluk said something strange. He said 'Soon he', meaning Sauron, 'will not only be Lord of Barad-dûr and Dol Guldur, but of all Middle Earth'. But Sauron was defeated in the Last Alliance, wasn't he? And why did Razhluk speak about Dol Guldur? I mean, I've heard certain… rumours about increased spider activity there, but it isn't that serious, is it?'
Actually, this wasn't entirely true, as Estel had been eavesdropping when he had learned about the worrisome tidings from Southern Mirkwood.
Elrond merely raised an eyebrow. 'Those certain rumours were not intended for the ears of young children.'
He looked at his youngest son, whose face was getting the colour of an overripe tomato. 'I just happened to be around when Thranduil's messenger got here and…'
'That's king Thranduil for you, Estel, you should always show respect to those who have earned it,' Elrond said very seriously, then he continued on a lighter tone, 'Especially Thranduil, for he is quite conscious of his position and he values the respect he gets from others very highly. Life will be much easier if you show the king of Mirkwood the proper respect.'
Estel lowered his head to hide his grin. 'Yes, I mean I couldn't help but overhear the words of the messenger of the highly praised and rich beyond imagination king Thranduil, whose generosity and open-mindedness towards other races is known and much praised even in the far lands beyond the sea.'
A roar of laughter was heard from behind the closed door.
'Elladan!' came an annoyed cry. 'Be quiet.'
'I take it that it is unnecessary to ask how you came on the idea of 'accidentally' overhearing the messenger,' Elrond whispered conspiratorial to Estel as he silently moved to the door, meanwhile talking to Estel in a loud voice. 'Well, Estel, you certainly will get an interesting response if you talk to him in such eloquent words.'
He had reached the door by now and suddenly opened it, revealing two thoroughly abashed Elves. One of them, Elladan, actually stumbling into the room as his father had opened the door so sudden.
'Good evening, ada!' Elladan said, once he recovered from his initial shock.
'It's a fine evening, is it not?' Elrohir said at exactly the same moment, with exactly the same fake enthusiasm and nonchalance as his twin, both having the same intent of appearing to pass the room totally incidentally, and with exactly the same result: none.
'Good evening, Elladan, and yes, it is very fine indeed, Elrohir,' Elrond responded. 'Why don't you and your brother go outside and enjoy this beautiful night?'
Elrohir immediately turned around, ready to leave, but Elladan hesitated for a moment, obviously trying to find an excuse to remain in the room, but he failed and saw no other option than to leave.
Once Elrond and Estel were alone in the room again, Estel turned serious. 'You never gave me an answer, why did Razhluk talk about the Dark Lord?'
'I see you are not easily swayed from your goal,' Elrond replied with a sigh.
After a moment's pause, he continued. 'I don't exactly know what he was talking about; however, I do not believe Sauron was defeated for good at the Last Alliance. He was merely defeated for the time being, and personally I always was of the opinion that he was hiding somewhere, biding his time.'
'Why didn't you do anything against it, then?'
Elrond chuckled at the child's logic. 'It is not that simple, Estel, I had to abide by the White Council.'
'And the White Council said to do nothing?'
Again, Elrond had to smile, but it was a bitter one. 'In fact, one of the Council members indeed told us to do nothing, though he put it in different words. Yet the notion behind the words was the same.'
Estel snorted. 'I never liked Curunír, he is awfully slimy, like a snake!'
Elrond turned away to hide his smile, though secretly he agreed with his adopted son.
'What did I say a few minutes ago?' Elrond asked, letting the fact slip that Estel had known 'one of the Council who told us to do nothing' to be Saruman, assuming his youngest had once again been 'just passing by' when he had picked up the information.
'To show respect to those who earned it,' Estel answered with an innocent expression on his face.
'Well, then why did you compare Curunír to a snake?'
'He didn't earn it.'
A thunderous laughter was heard from behind the door and though when Elladan and Elrohir once again re-entered the room he shot them one slightly disapproving glance, Elrond could not contain his own mirth soon the room was full of hearty laughter. Estel looked at the laughing Elves. 'There's no place like home.'~In Meth~
Ada = dad(dy)
Eldar = Elves
Edain = Humans
Perriannath = Hobbits
Iston, íon nín, iston = I know, my son, I know
Íon nín = my son
Note: Curunír is the Elvish name for Saruman; so, Curunír and Saruman are the same person (I just added this note to avoid confusion)
And this is the last time I ask you this (for AES: YF, that is…): please R & R