This story wrote itself. I was racking my brain for a suitable idea for the Teitho challenge "Ideas" and this managed to get itself onto the paper. So I guess it is one big idea. Denethor wandered in, Elladan and Elrohir turned up (In fact I am surprised that the Elevenking himself did not find a way in). Anyways, enjoy!
Children of Hope
2937, Third Age
"Do you see the bright star there in the West?" asked the elf.
A small face framed by unruly, dark curls tilted upwards towards the star-sprinkled sky.
"The big, red one over the flowering cherry?"
The boy pointed a small finger up to the North.
Elrond laughed softly and guided the child's hand around to the West.
"That was Carnil, hênig. Now look here above the mountain peak."
The little one's eyes came to rest on the bright light that had sunk low above the mountain, his hand held up unwavering towards the brightest of Gilthoniel's living flames.
"This one adar nin?"
"That one hênig. The brightest star and the most changeable, see how low to the horizon he sails."
Light laughter drifted through the open window above where the peredhil and his fosterling stood. For it was summer and the hearts of those in the Hidden Valley were light and merry.
"What makes this star so very dear?" asked the child.
Elrond looked down at the boy before him, and for but a moment it seemed to the Elf-Lord that a white flame flickered on his brow, as though great destiny shone through him.
"That star," he began, "is not just one of Gilthoniel's flames. It is the light of Valinor itself, held in a great jewel. My father, Eärendil sails the great ship Vingilot with a silmaril upon his brow and an emerald on his breast. It is the Gil-Estel, which brings light and hope to all the free peoples. Do you understand now?"
The boy nodded, for his fleetness of mind far outstripped his meager years. Then he laughed and knotted up his brow.
"My name is Estel, "will I too become a star, Adar?"
"No, hênig I am afraid you must remain on firm ground with the rest of us. But it is true that you share the name of the star. What does estel mean?"
Elrond bent down on one knee and drew the boy close, "Remember that Estel, remember that you carry hope here inside of you," and he laid his hand over the boy's heart, "and it cannot be taken from you, anymore than one could rip the Gil-Estel from the sky."
Estel's face grew serious and he promised.
2958, Third Age
"What is hope?"
Thorongil turned searching eyes on his fellow captain. Denethor flinched as they caught his gaze and held it, but he did not look away.
"What is any idea?" responded Aragorn.
Denethor coughed humorlessly.
"You sound like an elf-lord of old, answering questions with questions."
Thorongil smiled to himself, "I was not evading the question if that is what you think."
"I merely meant that it is an idea like all the rest, honor, courage, justice. They do not really mean anything until we acquire them for ourselves. What is courage; but an abstract against the day that you choose what is right despite your fear? Until you have stood on the brink of despair and still chosen hope against all reason, what can you know of hope?"
"And have you stood on the brink of despair and chosen to stand against reason?" asked Denethor.
Thorongil turned away from the Steward's Son looking out across the fields, to where the Black Land lay like the warning of a storm.
"Yea, against reason and to the point of folly."
"Then it was a fool's hope," said Denethor, disconcerted by his fellow and not for the first time.
"But hope nonetheless."
3019, Third Age
Aragorn of the Dúnedain stood a little apart from the others as they made camp in Ithilien. It was dark under the shadow of Mordor, and he longed for the stars. Beyond him the host was gathering around campfires, their voices hushed rather than boisterous.
"There is still light in the West."
Aragorn turned quickly to find a smiling elf at his shoulder.
"A ranger should be more aware of his surroundings, should he not?" asked Elrohir, coming up upon his right.
"I thought your father sent you to add me in this quest? Not frighten me out of my skin."
"And so we are," replied Elrohir, "For do we not stand beside you here and to the very slopes of doom?"
Around the three, the night darkened until only a single point of light stood out in the utter blackness.
"Gil-Estel," whispered Aragorn, "Hope when all else fades away."
"As well you should know, for are you not a child of that hope as well as its namesake?"
Legolas stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the children of Eärendil; his eyes gleaming silver in the reflected light of the star as he turned to Aragorn.
"Here we stand on the eve of doom and battle, where our sires fought and perished, and yet my heart is light and I have hope."
And Aragorn smiled into the darkness.
Gilthoniel - The Sindarin word for star-kindler, one of the titles of Elbereth.
Hênig – my child/my little one (Sindarin)
Adar nin – my father (Sindarin)