Aragorn the Mighty

By Karri

Summary: Ten-year old Aragorn finds trouble…and a friend.

Spoilers: None

Time Frame: Takes place after the Battle of the Five Armies (from The Hobbit)

Warning: This is my first Tolkien-based fanfiction, so read at your own peril. ;-)

Feedback: Welcome and appreciated.

Disclaimer: The characters and places of the Lord of the Rings are the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien, and currently licensed to New Line Cinema. All original characters and situations belong to the author. No slash expressed or implied at any time in any of my stories.

oOoOoOoOoOo

Legolas Greenleaf crouched over the fresh tracks before him, studying them carefully. The small prints were his second unexpected find the day. The first had been the orc prints they overlaid. Few of those fell creatures had escaped battle of Erebor, and most who had were hidden in the deepest of holes. Yet, all the same, he found himself on the trail of an orc party.

'And it would seem I do not hunt them alone,' he observed, an amused smile gracing his fair features. Rising, he continued quickly, but noiselessly, along the path the orcs – and the mortal child – had taken.

"Too young to go hunting in the mountains! I am not too young." The sulky words were carried to Legolas's ears on the light breeze. "I will kill so many orcs without them, the minstrels will write new songs about 'Estel the Mighty Slayer of Orcs'. Nay, not Estel…." The little voice paused as its owner deliberated, and then announced, "They shall name me 'Aragorn the Mighty Orc Slayer!'"

'A noisy little hunter! He will soon find himself the prey if he keeps it up.' Legolas frowned in disapproval and pressed forward even faster to intercept the lad.

Estel soon came into view. He had ceased his grumbling and stood, eyes closed, intently focused, listening for his prey. Legolas shook his head in renewed amusement. 'The lad knows how to play the part, if naught else.'

Still in a listening pose, Estel turned toward the elf. It wasn't possible that the lad had heard him, but Legolas reflexively lit, with graceful ease, into the branches above. Estel completed a slow circle without pause, and Legolas silently exhaled.

Estel lingered another moment, and then stepped, crouched and silent, in the direction the orcs had taken. Legolas's lips quirked with startled approval.

'My young hunter has a fine sense of smell, at least.' Curious to see if Estel had any skill with the small bow he carried, Legolas decided not to interfere, yet. There were only six orcs. He could take them swiftly enough to prevent harm from befalling the lad, should the sight of them not turn him from his quest.

Legolas closed the distance between himself and Estel, before the lad abruptly halted, much too near the orcs for the elf's comfort. Notching an arrow, he watched Estel peer intently through the foliage. Legolas raised his bow, as the lad readied a shaft and took aim. Estel's dart hits its mark and, though it did not embed deeply enough to fell the creature, the elven arrow beside it did. The boy grinned in self-congratulations and, puffed up with confidence, stood his ground as the orcs angrily turned his direction.

Estel loosed two more arrows in quick succession. Matching the child's timing, but with greater force, Legolas felled the two targets and then readied another shaft. The remaining orcs howled with fury, advancing toward Estel. For a moment Legolas thought the lad would turn and flee, but he did not. Estel loosed another arrow, but too hastily. It simply tumbled to the ground, but he noticed only that his target fell.

Legolas smiled and shook his head, but it was time for the game to end. Loosing one arrow in time with the lad, he quickly notched a second and shifted toward the final orc. Mere feet from the boy, it raised its crude scimitar and howled.

Estel scrambled backward and threw up an arm to block his face, cringing away from the mortal blow he expected. When the orc fell dead at his feet with an arrow planted firmly in its chest, Estel's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. He spun to find the archer and, after a moment to two, spied the elf amongst the branches.

Recognizing Legolas, he fell back onto one knee, bowing awkwardly. His brothers had told him of the son of Thranduil when the Wood-elf represented his father at the great Council last summer. The brief glimpse, magnified by his brothers' stories of the elf's skill and valor, had made an indelible impression.

Barely stifling a chuckle, Legolas feigned the proper amount of sobriety and acknowledged the bow.

"Well done," he bade. "I am honored to stand before you…Aragorn the Mighty Orc Slayer."

Estel grinned. 'Aragorn the Mighty Orc Slayer' – that I certainly am! Then realization dawned, and his expression dropped into a frown.

"I missed, did I not? It was you who killed the orcs…all of them."

"Indeed, it was my arrows that felled them, but your aim was true and your effort nonetheless valiant. I am honored to have been of assistance," Legolas replied with a grin, then sobered as distant movement caught his eye. "We must now flee."

Estel frowned, uncertain he wanted to face more orcs. Seeing the expression, Legolas lightened his own. "Do not fear. It is not orcs I see, merely your brothers."

Legolas chuckled as Estel blanched, but he understood. He'd had enough over-protectiveness inflicted upon him during his long life to sympathize with the lad quivering before him.

"It is possible your adventure may be looked upon with slightly less disfavor should you manage find your way home without their aid."

Estel's brow furrowed.

"But I will not manage that…I have lost the way," he reluctantly admitted, dropping his gaze.

Legolas smiled. "Never mind. I think you would not manage to evade your brothers without the aid of longer legs anyway."

Estel nodded, but did not lift his gaze.

With understanding, Legolas continued. "Do not grieve. None but you and I shall know my part in your song of valor."

His head flying up, Estel gaped at the elf, before matching his conspiratorial grin.

"Come now, hop up. We must be off," Legolas instructed. Turning toward the Valley, he trusted that the sight of his arrows strewn amongst the orcs would comfort the twins until he could return to tell them of Estel's fate.

oOoOoOoOo

Glimpsing the form of his young foster son dashing toward the courtyard, Elrond nearly melted with relief, then smiled approvingly. He and Glorfindel had only just returned from searching for the lad. They had found no trace of him and hoped for better news from Elladan and Elrohir. His elder sons had left no word, though. Nor were they anywhere in sight; yet there was Estel. Elrond felt a tickle of pride that the lad had managed to find his own way home seemingly unscathed.

A familiar presence distracted Elrond as he turned to meet the boy. Scanning the tree line, he found whom he sought. Crouched on a thickly leafed branch, Legolas was so well camouflaged that even as master of Imladris, Elrond would not have spotted the Wood-elf had he not felt him.

Elrond grinned, delighted by the Wood-elf's arrival. Thranduil had sent word that his son intended to pay a visit to a friend left in Rivendell the previous summer to recover from a grave injury received while escorting the prince to the Council. Concerned by the dimness of his son's spirit since the battle, the King had asked Elrond to convince Legolas to stay awhile.

When the Wood-elf abruptly turned and disappeared into the trees, Elrond's smile fell away and his brow furrowed with bewilderment. Pondering the departure, he strode quickly out into the courtyard. Estel rocketed into his arms, and Elrond hugged him tightly. The lad would need to be suitably punished for his reckless disobedience, but Gilraen would do an adequate job of that. For the moment, Elrond wanted to savor the feel of the boy in his arms. Estel returned the hug, but then squirmed from his grasp. Planting himself before Elrond, he stood, straight and tall, as if to say, "See, I am big enough to take care of myself."

Elrond suddenly comprehended why Legolas had not wished his presence known, and a smile crossed his features. Mirkwood's young prince was fiercely loyal to those he called friend -- the sort of ally Estel would need on the difficult road that awaited him. Perhaps this conspiracy would lay the foundation for just such a relationship to develop.

The end.

A/N #1: This story takes place in the spring of 2942 Third Age. The battle referred to is the Battle of Five Armies from "The Hobbit" which was fought in early winter of 2941 Third Age. The Council referred to is the Third White Council, which was held in late summer of 2941 Third Age.

A/N #2: Estel intends 'Aragorn' to mean 'valorous lord'. Whether Estel knew the name 'Aragorn' belonged to him, or thought he was inventing an original name and was influenced by a vague memory, I leave for the reader to judge.