Title: In My Heart.

Author: Ice Cube

Rating: Dunno yet, prolly not more than PG-13, thought prolly more like PG.

Spoilers:  Not unless you've know almost nothing about Lord of the Rings.

Disclaimer:  Right, if I owned them anywhere outside of my dreams, the characters that are forthwith mentioned in this story would be making me a lot of money and very happy…so no, they aren't mine, and I'm a broke college student who has no money, so if you're going to sue, feel free, you won't get anything.  The song is by Phil Collins, and is owned by him or whoever has the rights to it.  Needless to say, it isn't me.

Characters: Estel, Legolas, Elladan, Elrohir…the Lords Elrond and Glorfindel may make small appearances.

Archives:  Feel free; just let me know where so I can find it again.

Summary:  It's a songfic, as becomes painfully obvious after the set-up of the plot.  It's basically a general Aragorn and Legolas friendship fic that revolves around the early stages of their friendship, possibly spanning longer, but I don't know yet. 

Warnings: to those who think that I am capable of writing a fic that is torture free…I can't, and thus, if you don't want to see Estel h/c, various possible tortures, and other forms of angst, find another story.  Also, to those of you looking for slash, when I mean friendship, I take that in the best friend, trust you with my life and have no problem telling you about my current crush who is of the opposite sex.  In other words, if you're looking for slash, you won't find it here.  It's meant as a one-shot, but so are all of my stories, so we'll see where that goes.  By the way, like almost everything I've ever written, it's AU, so take that into account when Gilraen is missing and for anyone who doesn't assume that Elrond took Estel in as his son and the twins thought of him as a brother, I do…so…yeah…that happens in this.

A/N: Rhonda, this is to satisfy you until I can get For Estel written and posted.  And no, I still won't tell you what happens in the end.

            Songbird, I blame this story on you.  Sorta.  You haven't given me anything to write in a while, and while I don't mind it, I miss the Kao and Selinde Chronicles!

            Warning:  I don't have my stories beta'd, I'm too impatient to wait for someone to proof it after I've written it, so I apologize for any mistakes, and if you email me to tell me that they're there, I'll fix them on ff.net.

            Reviews are always a plus, it's great to know that people are reading my stories and like them, but as I'm a horrible reviewer, I won't hold my breath for them.  Flames, however, will be treated with the utmost respect they deserve…they will be ignored completely or poked fun at with friends.

            That said, on with the tale…

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                        You'll be here in my heart,

                        Always.

                                    - Phil Collins

"Ada, I'm going out to play," Estel called out the door as he was running.  He did not want to be caught inside doing lessons on an afternoon such as this if he could help it.

Elrond sighed as he watched the boy run towards the woods and only relaxed when he saw the 10 year old had his light sword sheathed at his waist.  At least if he was going to be alone in the Wilds surrounding Imladris, he would have some form of protection.  Turning back to the Mirkwood delegation, he continued through his meeting, meaning to find his elder sons when the talks were adjourned to trail Estel and keep an eye on him.

~~*~~

Estel had happened upon a set of tracks that looked vaguely familiar to him, and decided that even if he'd been successful at avoiding the hour of history lecture from Glorfindel, he should at least put some of the lessons from Elladan and Elrohir to use.  Carefully, he studied the prints and began to follow them farther away from the safety of his father's realm.

It was not much longer when Estel noticed the forest's quiet, as if the trees were screaming at him to turn back.  The birds were no longer chirping, the various insects all seemed to be holding their breath, and even the leaves that had been swirling in the winds had found places on the ground to watch what was beginning to unfold.  Had Estel been born an Elf, he would have heard the warnings of the trees that were speaking to each other of the danger to a child, but alas, the boy had to make do with his own senses.

"I don't like the sound of this," Estel whispered as his decade old mind processed the sudden quiet.  Wise beyond his young years, the boy had learned the value of alertness from the Elves, and quietly drew his sword even as he looked for a tree to climb while he tried to find what the problem was.  The sound of his metal blade grating on the sheath was unbelievably loud, even to the boy's ears, and he cringed.  The sound of heavy footsteps sent fear into the young Numenorean's heart, and he scrambled for cover.

~~*~~

Elrond had long ago finished his meeting with the Prince of Mirkwood and his delegates, and had retired to the Halls of Fire.  Here he had been resting lightly when the twins stumbled in, laughing about the prank they were going to play on one of the servants.  They stopped when they saw their father.

"Ada, where is Estel?  I thought he was to have history lessons in here with Glorfindel while you were meeting with Legolas?"  The look in their father's eyes was enough to sober any remaining humor in their hearts.

"That's what I meant to do afterwards.  Your brother went to play in the woods to the East.  Please go and find him if he isn't back.  I'd like him to be clean for dinner tonight, and he will definitely need a bath if he's been to the mud pits that he loves to find."

"Yes, Ada," the twins chorused as they turned back out the door.  It was starting to get close to the dinner hour, and as it was nearing winter, they both knew that it would be dark soon.  It was not long until they found Estel's prints, and followed them quickly to the same clearing that he had found his own tracking adventure some hours before.  What they found there tore at their hearts.  Estel's prints led off in the same direction of Orc tracks.

After following the tracks for longer than either twin would have liked, Elladan noticed that they were passing out of the boundaries of Imladris.  Knowing that they would need help if Estel were to have stumbled upon an Orc camp, the twins split up, Elladan opting to take the news to their father and getting Legolas and a number of other Elves to search for the boy, Elrohir following the tracks further to see what had become of their baby brother.

~~*~~

Estel had only just dived behind a bush when the troop of Orcs burst into the clearing.  He offered a silent prayer to Illuvitar that he would not be discovered.  His hopes began to fade as the Orcs began to bed down, sending a few of them off to collect firewood while others stood guard at the site.  Estel began to back slowly out of the copse of bushes to run in the other direction when the Orcs heard him. 

With no appreciation for the nature that was surrounding them, a set of Orcs charged through the bushes with the thrill of a hunt for anything on their mind.  When it proved to be a small child that they had been chasing who was discovered minutes later, the guttural sound of laughter erupted from the bunch.  When he turned on them and held his sword at the ready, the leader laughed again, muttered something about easy prey, and moved in on the boy.

It has been said that the least likely enemy will prove to be the most fearsome foe.  The first Orc that charged Estel found this to be true the hard way as the boy who had been raised by Elves easily blocked and feigned until he saw an opening and executed a fatal move with swift efficiency.

The shock of his first kill, however, startled Estel as the Orc fell in its death throes.  The hesitation was enough time for an Orc to move behind him and club the boy with the hilt of his sword.  It had been a short fight, Estel's first real taste of combat, and he would only remember it as failure when he came to.  Though that thought was sandwiched in thoughts of pain and despair when consciousness reclaimed hold on him, it was still present, and occupied much of the boy's mind.

"Would you look at that, the sniveling murderer is awake.  Shall we teach him what we think of murderers boys?"  The biggest of the Orcs growled out, making Estel cringe in fear.  Had he not been in the situation and only hearing about it, the boy may have laughed at the irony, remembering how he came to be a part of Lord Elrond's family, but as it was, he had caught sight of various whips and other objects near the fire circle that he did not recognize.  Chills raced up and down his back as he was grabbed and dragged towards the group.

~~*~~

Elladan raced through the Gates of Imladris, only to be met by a group of Elves ready for hunting.  It took him only an instant to realize that Legolas was leading the group, and only an instant after that to be assured that they were off to split up and search for Estel, as it was growing dark.

Elladan lead the group to the last place he had seen his brother, only to find the Elf not far off, caught under a tree that looked as though it had been rigged to fall and trap its prey, not harm it.  Elladan sent Legolas off tracking with half of the trackers while he stayed to help Elrohir.

~~*~~

Legolas had tracked the Orc prints as far as he could in the growing darkness, and it was with a heavy heart that he called to his followers to bed down for the night.  Even he couldn't see the tracks that were left, and could not trust that they would continue on in a straight path.  He sat on the edge of the clearing, staring off into the darkness, as a small, smokeless fire was started.  Not needing the fire for warmth, the Elves built the blaze only long enough to heat the small parcels of meat they had brought with them, and then extinguished the fire, sending them into darkness once more.

The Elf prince ate his rations in silence, fearing that the longer his target was lost to the Orcs, the less likely it was that he would be brought back.  Though they did not know for certain that Estel was in the hands of the Orcs and not just lost, the Lord Elrond had felt strongly about the possibility, and every Elf present knew not to doubt the Lord's feelings.

It wasn't long into the first watch that Legolas's ears picked up the small but not distant sounds of crying.  Not waiting for the rest of his group, the Elf grabbed his bow and quiver and sprinted off in search of what he hoped to be a lost, scared, safe Estel.  He couldn't have been more wrong.

~~*~~

Estel had been dealt numerous painful punishments that had wreaked havoc on his small form.  The Orcs had started out rather unoriginally, warming up by pushing the boy back and forth, punching and kicking at him while laughing at his own self-defense.  Soon though, Estel stumbled and fell, curling in on himself as the blows reigned down.  He barely heard the laughter as his arm broke, only listened to the cracking of his ribs, and mumbled to the Valar throughout the ordeal.

Soon after, the Orcs had grown bored with their own two hands and feet, and gave way to the vengeance of the whips.  But Estel blocked out the pain and would not cry out.  He did not know where the strength came from, but there was no way he was going to let these beasts hear him cry.

This only served to anger the Orcs, and they finally moved on to their most vicious weapon.  When they had been waiting for Estel to wake, they had taken their swords and daggers and heated the ends.  Knowing that the red hot blades would leave lasting memories and scars on the boy, one by one, the blades were dragged along Estel's back and torso, puckering and blistering the skin, and leaving small, cauterized lines wherever they cut.  Estel only hoped for unconsciousness, knowing full well that it would be his only saving grace.  It was soon granted to him, and the Orcs, thinking that they had finally broken and killed their prey and left him on the outskirts of their camp for the night.  They would distribute his remains to their wargs in the morning.

It was long into the night when the boy finally awoke, shivering in shock and cold.  Careful not to move so that he wouldn't alert the Orcs, he found that he was free from their clutches.  Pulling himself painfully to his feet, Estel made it about 10 paces before he was tripped up by an Orc on watch.  Falling to his hands and knees, the boy gasped as his broken arm was jostled, and curled in on himself, expecting the coming onslaught that sent him back into the darkness.  He was then tied to one of the trees that lined the camp, and left again.

Come stop your crying

It will be all right.

Just take my hand,

And hold it tight.

I will protect you from all around you.

I will be here don't you cry.

Not having been sent too deeply into unconsciousness, Estel soon awoke to more pain than he had ever thought imaginable.  Trying to free himself from his bonds proved impossible, and, seeing that he was alone, Estel finally broke down, crying softly for his hurts, and the hopelessness of the situation.

"Mankoi ume lle yel enni Estel, Ada?  There is none here."  Estel whispered to the stars before a fresh batch of tears assaulted his swollen eyes.  *Why did you call me Hope, daddy?*

Estel jumped as he felt a small dagger slide between his hands and cut the bonds that held him painfully in place.  As soon as his hands were free, a lithe hand slipped into his, holding him tightly in reassurance.  "Ten eller na ilyamenie estel tithen pen, ilyamenie.  Stay still for a moment, let the others take care of the Yrch."  *Because there is always hope, little one, always. ; Orcs*

"Prince Legolas?"  Estel could hardly believe it, but he was still afraid.

"Aye, Estel, it is I.  Be still."

"I'm afraid.  I want to go home."

"We will soon, little one, don't worry.  I will keep you safe and bring you home to your Ada and your brothers."

For one so small, you seem so strong.

My arms will hold you, keep you safe and warm.

This bond between us can't be broken.

I will be here, don't you cry.

Estel watched in amazement as Elven arrows cut down the Orcs.  When they were gone, Legolas came around from the tree and lifted the boy safely into his embrace.  Estel instinctively clutched to the Prince's tunic.  Legolas could feel the chill coming from the boy's skin; there was barely anything covering his wounded back, and the boy was shivering.  "We would have been here sooner, little Estel, but the tracks were too far to follow, and we did not hear you crying until only minutes before.  I am sorry, we should have heard you when they were hurting you."  The look in Legolas's eyes saddened Estel, and he felt the need to comfort the adult.

"It's not your fault, Legolas.  You couldn't have heard me, Taren."  *Prince*

"I am an Elf, Estel, you should know that I could have heard it, should have heard it."

"You don't understand, you couldn't have heard me when they were hurting me.  You couldn't have heard me because there was nothing to hear."  Estel was whispering now as they made their way back to the camp and darkness's hold was claiming him once more.

"What do you mean?"

"There was nothing to hear.  I didn't cry when they were hurting me."  With that, Estel fell into unconsciousness once more.  They finally reached the camp again, and the fire was restored to provide warmth for the boy and also gave Legolas a better look at the injuries that decorated the boy's body.  When the rest of Estel's tunic was removed, Legolas saw that the number and severity of hurts the boy had sustained were too numerous for him to do much for.  There was only one who could save the boy now.

Gathering the human into his arms once more, Legolas began to run for the valley that housed the best healer in Middle Earth.  He did not understand how the boy could have held out for so long.  He couldn't fathom how the boy could have kept his tongue in cheek and not cried out against his hurts.  They were so many and so evil that not even Legolas could have thought up the tortures for his worst enemy.  They were reserved only for the evil of Orcs.

It was early in the morning when the Gates of Imladris were opened for the host of Elves who had been tracking Estel's flight.  Legolas had met up with the twins and the other half of the trackers on his way back with Estel.  Elladan and Elrohir were both too exhausted and shocked to do much more than follow behind as the path back to the Valley was taken. 

'Cuz you'll be in my heart

Yes, you'll be in my heart

From this day on,

Now and forevermore.

You'll be in my heart

No matter what they say

You'll be here in my heart -

Always.

Estel woke to the familiar yet unhoped for sensation of lying in his own bed, warm and beneath several comfortable blankets.  He bit his lip as his first thought was to some kind of deception.  Forgotten was his rescue by the Prince, and his admission to his unfounded strength.  More aware of his surroundings, Estel felt a lithe hand still clutching his own.  Or perhaps he was clutching the lithe hand, Estel didn't know, but the grip gave him the courage he wanted.   Stifling back more tears, he opened his eyes slowly, afraid of what he would find.  As he took in the dim lighting that was just barely filtering through his closed drapes, Estel smiled.  He really was home.

Looking down towards his hand, Estel saw that Legolas was attached to the hand that was clasping his.  The Prince's head was bent into his forearm, and he was dozing lightly.  Estel turned his head to look further down the bed, and saw that his father was sitting on an easy chair next to the Prince.  He, too, was asleep, having been worn out from his vigil over the small human.  Knowing that his brothers were also in the room, Estel found them crossways on two more easy chairs on the opposite side of the bed.

Shifting a little to be more comfortable, Estel inadvertently put too much pressure on various injuries and had to bite back a cry.  He could not, however, stop his hand from tensing, and, much to his chagrin, Legolas awoke.

"Estel!"  The prince exclaimed quietly.  "You're awake.  We were so worried about you.  You've been asleep for a week, little one.  How do you feel?"

"Hurts."  Estel tested out his voice for the first time and found that it was hoarse and painful to speak.  He saw Legolas reach for a glass of water on his bedside table, and took it eagerly.  Remembering from past experiences to drink slowly, the boy sipped the drink before returning it to Legolas.  "I'm sorry I woke you."

"Do not worry, tithen pen.  It is I who should be sorry.  I should have gotten to you sooner, mellon nin."

"Thank you for coming after me.  I know you didn't have to."  Legolas looked shocked, and then paled as he realized that even this little boy could tell the animosity that the Mirkwood Elves held towards humans, even if the Prince himself did not harbor these thoughts.

"Aye, Estel, I did.  You are the son of the Lord Elrond, and brother of my best friends.  I hope to be able to continue to call you mellon as I do them.  It is for that reason that I came after you.  I would do the same for any of my friends, be they Elf, Man, or…" he paused, "well, I suppose if I were ever to befriend a Dwarf, then the same would hold true for him."

Estel giggled at the thought, and was caught by a fresh wave of pain.  "I want Ada, Legolas."  The boy had barely finished his sentence before the Prince had reached to wake Lord Elrond.

Elrond awoke quickly, and, seeing what was wrong, pulled his youngest son into his arms to comfort him.  Legolas backed off from the encounter, but before he pulled his hand away, bent down and whispered in the boy's ear.

"Lle naa sinome e'hoon nin ilyamenie." *You'll be here in my heart always.*

TBC…so much for a one-shot.