Title: Early Days

Disclaimer: Don't belong to me.

Summary: A sort of history of Aragorn and his mother, Gilraen, arriving at Rivendell and how they settled there. Might go more into Aragorn's childhood, depends on how big the plot-bunny grows. (And you know what I feed the plot-bunny? Reviews! Hint, hint.) This first part is Gilraen's POV. Aragorn is about 3 years old. All criticism, praise, comments, opinions and plot ideas welcome. In fact, the only things that aren't welcome are flames.

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Gilraen smiled softly as she watched her son playing on the soft carpet before her. In these dark times, he was the only thing that could bring her happiness. To her, it seemed that every move he made, everything he did made her love him more.

He made her happy, and she knew she needed him. After Arathorn's death she had retreated inside herself, unable to cope with the pain and loss, and none among the Dunadan had been able to help her. It was only here, safe in Rivendell, that she found peace.

She winced as she pricked her finger with the sharp needle she was holding, and reminded herself that daydreaming wasn't productive. Technically, she could leave her darning for Lord Elrond's servants, but the idea made her uncomfortable. Living in the wilds with the Dunadan had taught her to be self-sufficient, and to do everything that needed done herself. She didn't like the idea of burdening the Elves with more work, and besides, the repetitiveness relaxed her, giving her something to focus on to keep away the unwelcome thoughts that plagued her mind.

She jumped and pricked her finger for a second time when she looked up to check on Aragorn, or Estel now, and saw a dark-haired Elf sitting beside him.

Hearing her gasp, he turned and stood, before bowing. "I apologise if I startled you. Lord Elrond sent me to inform you that lunch is ready, and hopes that you will join us."

"Is Aragorn also invited?"

"Of course." She smiled at that. Whereas rich humans they had sometimes stayed with much preferred children to be not seen nor heard, the Elves were delighted by small children. If she wasn't careful, Aragorn would grow up thoroughly spoilt.

"Then I would be delighted to come." The messenger smiled at that, bowed once more, and retreated out into the hallway. She picked up Aragorn, checking him for dirt. Even if the Elves did love children and understood how hard it was to keep them clean, tidy and quiet, she didn't want them thinking that she took no care of him. The Elves were always immaculate, which made her feel somewhat insecure.

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Even though this meal was just routine to the Elves, Gilraen, as always, felt like she'd stepped into a beautiful dream. Soft laughter and melodious voices hummed around the room, and gentle lights illuminated beautiful faces and clothing. Aragorn was luckily on his best behaviour, which was most likely due to the two identical Elves sat on his other side. They had spent the meal amusing him with small jokes and tricks, such as pulling a dinner roll out from behind his ear.

None of the Elves had attempted to strike up a conversation with her yet, which Gilraen felt quite glad about. All the Elves looked quite alike to her, and she was having trouble remembering their names. She didn't want to offend anyone she had already met by forgetting who they were. She wasn't overly worried though; the Elves all seemed very good-natured, and so far she hadn't seen any get angry, or even slightly irritated, even when Aragorn had just knocked some expensive wine all over a new cream-coloured rug.

But then, Aragorn was a child, and the Elves doted on him. She wasn't sure if they'd be as forgiving with her.

Stabbing her fork into a piece of pork she was surprised when it was so tender it broke in half. After several more unsuccessful attempts, she gave up and started using her fork as if it were a spoon. She saw a female Elf across from her doing the same thing, so she thought it must be okay.

Noticing that the twins were now talking to each other she turned her full attention back to Aragorn, who had just put his elbow in her gravy while reaching for her wine.

* * * * *

"Excuse me?" Gilraen turned, and almost fell trying to curtsey while holding a sleeping child. Luckily, Lord Elrond caught her arm and restored her balance.

"Please, you do not need to curtsey every time you see me. It would get very tiring for you, and I was hoping we could develop a less distant relationship than that." He peered into her careworn face. "Is there anything troubling you? You were very quiet at the feast."

"I am sorry, my Lord. I must confess that I am not very good with names. I was worried I might offend someone by forgetting I'd already met them."

"Don't worry. All here will understand that this is a difficult time for you, and that it is hard when you first move somewhere. In time, you will come to know everybody you need to. You do not need to memorise everyone from the start. You have only been here two weeks."

His low voice calmed her, and she couldn't help but relax. "If you do not mind, Lord Elrond, I need to retire to my rooms. Aragorn's exhausted, and I'm not much better."

"I apologise. It has been so long since mortals stayed here I had forgotten how much they need sleep. Please, excuse me."

Weary, depressed, and unsure whether or not his last comment had been insulting, she returned to her rooms.

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A/N: This first part was quite short, for two reasons. One: I want to start the next day as a new chapter (new day, new chapter.) and two: because I always like feedback on a fic before I write tons (so if everyone goes 'this is crap' etc I probably won't write much more. If I do, I won't post it. And that was a hint to review, in case you missed that. ;-).