Disclaimer: This story is written in Tolkien's magical world, which is not mine and never will be. It is written purely for fun and no money is made from it.

Summary: AU. In the months following his coronation as king Aragorn still faces many allies of Sauron roaming Gondor's lands. Spending most of his time absent from Minas Tirith and his new queen he begins to wonder whether he has allowed Arwen to make the wrong choice. When such thoughts bring him to despair it is up to those who love him to show Aragorn the truth, yet perhaps there is one person he needs to hear this from the most. Not Arwen, but her father. Can Elrond see through his own grief to help his foster son cope with the burdens of his new life?

A/N: This is my first fanfiction, actually pretty much the first time I have written anything, so all thoughts and helpful hints would be appreciated.
This story is AU in as much as I don't know much about this time period and, for the purposes of this story, am quite prepared to ignore any details that clash with what I want to write about.

Chapter One

Aragorn sighed, fingering the reins of his horse as he stared unseeing over the enemy arrayed below. His mind was not on the coming battle, but back in Minas Tirith with his new queen. Where he felt he should be.

'Estel, are you well?'

He looked round in surprise into Elladan's worried face. The elf raised an eyebrow as he waited for an answer, concerned by his brother's obvious preoccupation.

'I am well,' Aragorn replied at length, forcing a smile. 'I was thinking.'

'Of the Easterlings?' Elrohir queried with a knowing grin. 'Or of our fair sister?'

But this did not elicit the response he had been expecting. Instead of relaxing into humour a look of pain flashed across his younger brother's face, and Aragorn turned away, focusing his attention once more on the field before them. 'Of Arwen, he agreed softly, dragging on the reins and wheeling his horse around, back from the edge of the cliff.

The twins shared a puzzled glance before following, unsure what to make of the strange mood that had settled on their brother these past weeks.

'He is tired,' Elrohir offered with a shrug. 'The months since the coronation have not been easy. Sauron may have been defeated but enemies there are still who must be faced before Gondor is secure.'

'Too many perhaps.' Elladan studied Aragorn's back, seeing the tension strung through the man. 'But I think Estel is troubled by more than just war.'

'Will you speak to him?'

The older twin sighed. 'I will try. Getting him to open up is not as easy as it used to be.'

'Aye, he is not a child anymore, nor even a young man.' Elrohir's eyes darkened with sorrow. 'And he does not laugh like he used to, not even with Arwen. She is worried for him too, I sense it when I am with her though she does not speak of it.'

'She is getting as bad as Estel,' laughed Elladan, kicking his mount into a canter to catch up with their brother. 'Perhaps we could persuade Legolas to do this for us. Estel seems to think the fact we are family is excuse enough to lose his temper if he wishes. The Prince of Mirkwood may dare to go where we cannot!'

'Dare to go where my lord Elladan?' came an amused voice from above, and moments later the fair-haired elf dropped down from the branches as the twins pulled their horses to a surprised halt.

'Legolas!' Elrohir announced with a sheepish grin. 'Were you following us?'

'Following you? Why no, dear friends. I was merely passing through. I am teaching Gimli the elements of tracking.' He paused, head swivelling from side to side. 'I have not seen him for a while now.'

'In a tree?' Elladan murmured, shaking his head. 'The dwarf will be hot enough to cook with when he catches up with you I suspect.'

Legolas shrugged carelessly, though a twinkle of amusement shone in his blue eyes. He caught hold of Elladan's bridle and began to walk back towards the camp. 'I could not help overhearing my name spoken,' he began delicately, 'and in such a tone that I have come to recognise will bring me nothing but trouble. Perhaps you would care to tell me what mischief you are planning that I am a part of?'

'No mischief,' Elrohir assured him. 'We were speaking of Estel.' He glanced at his twin.

'We are worried for him,' Elladan finished. 'He does not seem himself.'

'Ah that.' Legolas frowned, turning to stare after the retreating figure of Aragorn surrounded by his guards. 'And you wish for me to speak with him?'


The Silvan elf shook his head sadly. 'Not this time, I am sorry.' He left go of the bridle and fell back as an outraged roar came from the trees to his right. 'This is one time when he needs his family,' he told them as Gimli charged headlong out of the undergrowth.

'Legolas! Do not tell me I have been following a rabbit while you have been hobnobbing with the king!'

'Peace Gimli. I assure you I have been here only minutes.'

The twins watched in startled amusement as Legolas held up his hands in contrition, attempting to pacify the angry dwarf. Then they kicked their mounts on. 'What did he mean?' Elrohir wondered as he followed Elladan, leaving the two friends bickering in the grove. 'Does he know what is wrong?'

'I do not know,' Elladan replied thoughtfully. 'But I think we should find out before this battle is joined.'

* * *


Aragorn turned, smiling as his brother pushed open the tent flaps and came inside.

'Elladan.' He paused, seeing the troubled expression on the elf's face. 'Is something wrong?'

'Perhaps. Is all well with you?'

'With me? I am fine.' He walked to a chair and sat down, picking a scroll from the desk and glancing over the words.

Elladan sat down beside him, taking his brother's chin in his hand and turning his face towards him. 'I know you too well Estel,' he murmured. 'You cannot hide your pain from me. Tell me what trouble you.'

For an answer Aragorn closed his eyes, tearing himself free of his brother's grasp. 'Will you go over the sea?' he asked after a pause. 'When our father leaves, will you and Elrohir go also?'

Elladan sat back, confused. 'Why do you ask?'

'Because I think you will not,' Aragorn answered softly. 'I think you plan to stay but you have not yet told Elrond of your decision.'

'And this is what troubles you? That Elrohir and I might make the same choice as Arwen?'

Aragorn sighed, meeting the elf's eye for the first time. 'It is a part of it,' he admitted. He swallowed, as tears pooled in his grey eyes. 'I worry that she has made the wrong choice. I fear that Arwen has chosen mortality for love of me and it will bring her only pain. Since we married it seems to me I have spent less time with her than ever before. I have been in Minas Tirith a few days only, the rest of my time spent on campaign and it never seems to end. Will it always be this way? Has she given up so much to be with a man who can never truly be with her because of the demands of his kingdoms?'

'Estel, she has made her choice. Her choice, not yours. She cannot go back on it now and nor would she. And these troubled times will not last forever. Sauron's allies will soon crumble and flee.' A wry smile tugged at the elf's lips as he regarded his youngest brother. 'Though it may not seem it now, there will come a time when you will yearn to march once more at the head of an army, when you will long for adventure outside the safe walls of the White City. You wish for peace now, but some day you will look back on these days with fondness.'

'I will always long for peace!' Aragorn snapped, pushing himself to his feet.

'Aye, that you will,' Elladan agreed sadly. 'That is not what I meant.'

Aragorn scrubbed a hand through his hair, channelling his agitation into fretful pacing. 'I never wanted this, and yet I had to want it. I love Arwen with all my heart and I wished for nothing else but to have her by my side, yet now she is mine I feel only guilt. That I have taken her from her people, her family, her true home. And Ada, when I see the way he looks at her, and the sadness in his eyes I. . .' He swung back to Elladan. 'He never says anything yet I do not see how he cannot hate me for what I have taken from him. And what I might still take.'

'All this you knew before,' his brother pointed out. 'And she did also. I say again, it is her choice, and it is ours too, if Elrohir and I decide to remain in Middle Earth. This he understands Estel. You do not live so long as our father without gaining some wisdom along the way.' He reached out a hand and caught Aragorn's in his. 'You are his son too, and he loves you as much as any of us. Do you think that the thought of leaving you behind does not tear at his heart as much as losing Arwen? He will grieve for you both when the time comes, but it is not here yet. The elves will remain for many years before the last of our people depart. Do not torment yourself Estel, it is not you alone that is hurt by this.'

'What do you mean?'

Elladan sighed. 'Arwen feels your pain little brother. Elrohir and I feel your pain. You must put it aside and live in the present. The future, like the past, is not within your control.' He stood also, holding out his arms to embrace his troubled sibling. 'We will talk of this later Estel. But now is not the time for these thoughts. The Easterlings will show you no mercy in battle if you are too preoccupied to defend yourself. You must put aside your troubles and be the king you are, the king your people need you to be. When this is over there will be time for you and Arwen to be together and then you will understand that for her this is the only fate she would chose. Valinor is no protection from grief Estel. Even there she would mourn you.'

* * *