Title: Duty of the Heart
Authors: TrinityTheSheDevil and Karine
Archive: Just ask.
Rating: PG 13 for the content in later chapters. A chance it could lean towards R rated.
Disclaimer: Well, Trin doesn't own them. Karine says she does. But we all know she's lying. We do however, own a cloning machine. And we make good use of that cloning machine. *evil chuckles from both authors*
Summary: When Aragorn and Legolas find a young orphan in the woods, they decide to bring him with them to Rivendell. This may be the beginning of a new life for the child. But, for his new life to begin, he must survive the trip first...

Aragorn had been in the wilds for a couple of years now. At one point, as he was passing through Mirkwood forest, he decided to go pay his friend Legolas a visit. When he arrived, Legolas announced to him that he was leaving; he had to go to Rivendell to deliver a message to Elrond. Aragorn, who had not been to his home for a long time, decided that he would go with him. They were now near the Misty Mountain, they decided to make camp for the night and wait for dawn to travel the Redhorn Pass.

Aragorn looked up at his elven friend from where he sat, poking at the fire. It was a quiet night. Too quiet. Legolas obviously felt it too, for he stood with his back straight as an arrow. He looked upwards, and smiled inwardly. The stars were like candles, dotted against the inky black sky, and shown brightly to his mortal eyes.

Standing up to brush his horse down, Aragorn jumped when he heard a small cry. He took off into the woods, with Legolas hot on his heels.

They ran as fast as they could toward the cry. Both being warriors, they knew that a cry in the woods was never a good thing and that it should never be ignored. What they saw when they arrived at a small clearing broke their hearts.

A small boy of maybe five years old was sitting on the ground, hand around his knees and he was crying desperately. They both approached the boy, and they were concerned when the boy didn't stir as Aragorn took him in his arms. They brought him to their camp, with Legolas was singing a child lullaby in elvish all the way back. When they arrived, they put the now sleeping child in one of their bedrolls.

Aragorn wondered how such a small child could be in the wilderness, alone. His parents must be extremely worried. Aragorn grabbed his saddle bag and searched for some Lembas bread. The boy looked malnourished, and would probably be very hungry when he awoke.

Settling down beside the boy, the Ranger looked him over for any injuries he could have sustained while in the wilds. It was a miracle that the child had stayed alive this long. His sand colored hair was matted down with mud, twigs, and other various things one would find on a forest floor. The small arms and legs were covered in filth, and his clothing hung in rags about his tiny frame. Finding no outward sign of a serious injury, Aragorn sighed and waited for the child to awaken.

The boy began to thrash in his sleep and before they could reach him, he sat up startled. He looked at them and his eyes widened. Fear, confusion and worry etched all over his features.

"What....what do you want with me?" He whispered in a shaking voice.

"We just want to help you little one." Legolas said in his musical voice while Aragorn nodded his approval.

The child seemed to relaxed a little but he still didn't trust them completely. Aragorn then asked what he was doing in the woods alone and it took a little time for the child to answer. When he did, tears were pouring down his cheeks.

"We were living in a small house, my father and mother and me. One night we were attacks by big ugly monsters and I escaped just like my father told me. But my parents didn't escape and when I came back to my house, their eyes were close and I couldn't wake them, so I left." The child seemed to count on his fingers before adding. "It's been 14 days since I left them and I'm all alone." The child broke down and began sobbing loudly.

Legolas, who was closer to him, took him in his arms and told him,

"Fear not young one, for we are here now and we won't let you down." He looked at the elf then the human back and for a minute, his mood had seem to lighten a bit from the elf words. He finally said.

"You two make an odd pair."

"Oh really?" Legolas ask, his eyebrow shooting up. "Well, we do not take insult lightly from a boy like you. Do you want to know what we do to them?"

The child didn't have the time to answer because Aragorn had come to their side and said grinning.

"We tickle them!"

The child laughed and giggles could be heard everywhere and it warmed their hearts.

After the small tickle fest, Aragorn sat the boy down beside him.

"Are you hungry?"

The boy nodded. "Yeah! I could eat a horse I'm so hungry!"

Aragorn laughed. "I don't think my horse would appreciate that. But, I do have some Lembas bread here."

The boy took the bread, and devoured it. Aragorn wondered if he had inhaled it, as fast as the bread disappeared.

After the boy had finished, and drank his fill of water, Aragorn asked him,

"So, what's your name?"

The boy sat for a moment, and turned to the two travelers.


Aragorn blinked. "Elrond? Really? And why is that?"

"Because......I'm tall. And pretty. And a mighty warrior. And........I am brave. And I have really scary eyebrows."

Aragorn choked on the bread he was eating at that last remark. "Where *cough* did you hear all this from?"

"My pa told me. He said that Lord Elrond is one of the bravest Elves around!"

"Well," Aragorn laughed slightly, "I happen to know Elrond. So you can't be him."

"REALLY? Is he really brave and tall?" The child looked at Aragorn in wonderment.

"Yeah, he is. And, I'll take you to meet him. But I have to know your name first."

"Thomas, son of Thalion. But everyone calls me Tommy." Tommy smiled widely at Aragorn, showing two missing front teeth.

Aragorn sucked in a breath. Thalion. He knew that name. It was the name of one of the Rangers who he had fought with. Aragorn felt the blow to his heart, as he realized that Thalion was dead. The boy now had no one to look after him, for Thalion and his wife had no other family. It would be up to him to care for his friends child. It was the least he could do, as he wasn't there to save the child's father.

"Well Tommy, my name is Strider. The Elf sitting behind you is Legolas. How would you like to go to Rivendell, to meet Lord Elrond, with us?"

Tommy nodded, and leaned sleepily on the rangers shoulder.

Tomorrow, they would set out for Rivendell. The child would stay with Aragorn, until something could be thought up. These thoughts weighed heavily on the rangers mind, as he drifted off to sleep.

End of chapter one. More to come! Reviews are welcome!