A/N:  I wasn't completely happy with the way this turned out, but I was working from vague memories of dealing with an infant (and a colicky one at that).  My baby (actually my niece but still 'my baby') is almost two.  So if anything seems off, or not quite right, bear with me.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Fatherhood

TA 2982 July 1

Imladris

Aragorn woke to small whimpers coming from the cradle in the corner of his bedchamber.  For a second he debated burying his head under the pillow and returning to his lovely dream of gold sunlight and shimmering sapphire pools...in other words...Legolas.  At least four times the night before Farothen had woken him from slumber to eat, get changed or just cuddle.

When Farothen's whimpers turned into full blown cries Aragorn turned onto his back, head still buried under the pillow, and moaned, "Just a few more minutes."

Apparently his son wasn't in a very accommodating mood because the volume of his tears just seemed to increase.  'He gets this penchant for demanding his way from Legolas.' Aragorn silently complained, 'That's what I get for having a child with a spoiled prince.  Well, I've learned my lesson well.'

"Never again," he grumbled aloud.  Farothen's only reply was to increase his volume yet again.  'By the Valar how can something so small make so much noise?'

Sighing Aragorn rolled out of bed, dreamily remembering the morning before when he'd been spared the injustice of waking up to a screaming infant.  Beyond that, whenever Farothen had cried during the day Aragorn had been able to pass him off to someone who could lift and walk with him until his tears ceased.  He no longer had a choice to do that.  It was a little daunting to know he was now the primary care taker of such a tiny helpless being.

Up until yesterday Aragorn had been unable to take care of his son alone, seeing as only a few hours after Farothen's birth Aragorn had developed an infection in his lower stomach (where the birth canal was left to heal at it's own pace) and had spent a couple days in a state of fever induced delirium.  To battle the infection Elrond had been forced to mix an antibiotic paste.  Once the infection had been healed the Elven healer had stitched the birth canal closed, hoping it would discourage any further infection and help Aragorn heal faster.

For two weeks Aragorn had been forbidden to lift anything (including his son) at the risk of tearing the stitches, so he'd had constant help from his father and Glorfindel.  Elladan and Elrohir had conveniently left on one of their orc hunting trips once they knew Aragorn would heal completely seeing as neither wanted to be roped into changing the baby's soiled diapers.  The day before Elrond had removed the stitches and declared Aragorn healthy enough to take care of Farothen by himself, so the cradle had been moved from Elrond's room to Aragorn's. 

For a moment the ranger wished he could go back to the time when he had his chamber to himself as Farothen's cries increased in volume once again.  Pushing that thought aside he pulled on a pair of semi-clean leggings and went over to the cradle.  Farothen was red-faced, eyes scrunched tightly closed, mouth open wide and screaming at the top of his lungs by the time Aragorn got to him.

"Shh, ion nin.  Ada's here." Aragorn whispered as he lifted his son and cradled the baby to his chest.  Immediately he winced when a not so nice aroma reached his nose, "Hmm, it seems you left Ada a surprise."

Farothen continued to scream, completely oblivious to Aragorn's sudden rush of panic as he remembered he had never changed Farothen, having only been allowed to cuddle and give him a bottle.  Holding the squalling infant to his chest (and trying desperately to not breathe through his nose) Aragorn made for the door of his chambers.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Elrond looked up when the door to his study burst open and Aragorn walked in holding Farothen, who seemed to be attempting to break the record for the most sound ever made in Rivendell by one person.  The elf cringed when an extra shrill shriek came from the infant.

"Ada," Aragorn said, nearly shouting to be heard over his screaming son, "He's hungry and I've never smelled anything this bad in my entire life!"

Elrond stifled a chuckle at his foster son's panicked look, "Well change him, Estel, then feed him."

Aragorn's gaze got huge, "But I've never changed him!"

Elrond sighed, "Alright, let's return to your chambers and I'll walk you through it."

"But...I was hoping..."

"That I would do it?" Elrond interrupted.  He shook his head, "He is your son, Estel.  You need to learn to do this all yourself."

"But...but..."

"Come." Elrond said, steering Aragorn out of his study, "Let's go."

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Aragorn looked down at the wriggling, screaming baby lying on the middle of his bed, clean diaper in one hand and a warm, wet wash cloth in the other.  He threw Elrond one last pleading look and received a negative headshake.  Letting out a tiny whimper he looked back at is son and took a careful deep breath.

Holding the breath he quickly set to work, Farothen screeching the whole time.  Elrond stood at the foot of the bed unashamedly grinning as he coached his son threw the process, "Use the edge of the soiled swaddling to clean off as much as you can then clean the rest with the wash cloth."

Doing as he was bid Aragorn unceremoniously wrapped the soiled linen up and dropped it in the nearest wash basin.  Elrond continued his coaching until the infant was once again wrapped in clean swaddling.

Lifting his now sweet smelling son back to his chest Aragorn threw the wash basin a disgusted look making Elrond chuckle and say, "The maid will take care of that.  Now I think he's ready for his bottle."

Nodding Aragorn got off the bed just as the maid walked in with the bottle of milk Elrond had sent her for.  Handing the bottle to Aragorn she silently picked up the wash basin holding the soiled linen and left with a small smile as Aragorn settled in the rocking chair by his balcony doors.  Almost the moment the nipple was put in his mouth Farothen fell silent and began sucking as if it was the last meal he would ever receive.

"Will you be okay now, Estel?" Elrond asked, "I really must return to my study.  I have a lot of work to get done."

"Uh-huh." Aragorn murmured, anxious to be alone with his son now that he was back in familiar territory.

Chuckling, Elrond walked toward the door, "You know where I am if you need me."

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Two hours later Aragorn was back in Elrond's study with a once again screaming infant held against his chest.  The ranger paced in front of Elrond and Glorfindel, lightly jiggling Farothen while he battled back tears and babbled, "He's been crying for an hour and he won't stop!  He's not hungry and he doesn't need to be changed.  He just continues to scream constantly."

Aragorn spun to face his foster father, "What am I doing wrong, Ada?  Why can't I get him to stop crying?"

Elrond stepped toward his son and practically had to pry the infant from Aragorn's arms, "You need to calm down, Estel.  Your stressing is only adding to the problem."

"You mean he's crying because of me?" Aragorn gasped just as Farothen's sobs quieted as Elrond cuddled him securely against his body.

At that sight every hormone in Aragorn's body, still out of order because of the pregnancy, took over and he burst into tears, "I'm a failure as his ada!

"You are not." Elrond started only to be cut of by his distraught foster son.

"He hates me!" Aragorn sobbed, slumping into the nearest chair and covering his face with his hands.

"He doesn't hate you."

"Yes he does!" Aragorn insisted, angrily wiping at the tears cascading down his face, "Or he wouldn't continue to cry only when I hold him.  He hates me and wishes he had a different ada!"

"Estel, he does not." Elrond said, barely resisting rolling his eyes as he lightly rubbed Farothen's back, soothing the lingering sobs.

Aragorn sniffed back another flood of tears, "I know he hates me.  I would too.   Can't do anything right."

Elrond gave a small sigh as he swayed slightly on his feet, lulling Farothen to sleep with the motion, "Estel, you need to calm down.  He's sensing your insecurity.  That's why he cries..."

"See?" Aragorn grumbled, wiping at more tears, "Even you blame me."

Elrond groaned, "Estel..."

Aragorn looked at his sleeping son.  Sighing lifted his gaze to Elrond's and pouted, "Why can't he do that for me?"

"Because you're too wound up." Elrond said softly, "Now, take him to his cradle and let him finish his nap.  You take one too, while you can."

"Right." Aragorn murmured gently taking Farothen and holding him securely in his embrace.  Luckily the infant remained asleep throughout the switch and Aragorn left the study whispering to his son, "It's okay, tithen faron nin.  Ada will take care of you."

Elrond smiled as father and son disappeared before turning to face Glorfindel, who had remained silent throughout the scene, "He will be a very good father once he gets past the initial panic of all first time parents."

Glorfindel smiled, "I don't know, Elrond.  He will be...he is...a good father, but I don't think he will ever get over the panic.  It all stems from him having very little faith in his own strength."

Elrond flopped down into his desk chair in a very un-Elven way and sighed, "Great.  You mean I'll have to constantly boost his opinion of his parental ability?"

Glorfindel cocked a brow, "You were the same way with Estel when he first came here when he was two.  When he got old enough to take care of himself..."

"The horrors of worrying about his well-being increased because he seemed unnaturally accident prone."

"That was the twins, I believe." Glorfindel said with a nod, "But we're getting off the subject.  Estel has very little faith in the strength of his blood.  I fear that lack will extend into fatherhood as well."

Elrond sighed, "You have a point.  But luckily, Estel has us to help him."

"Us?" Glorfindel nearly squeaked, kissing his trip to Lothlorien for the next decade or two, until Farothen had at least reached his majority, good-bye.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Aragorn slumped in the rocking chair, Farothen asleep on his stomach on the ranger's chest.  He sighed and laid his head back, closing his eyes.

He'd had no idea that taking care of a baby could be so tiring.  Farothen had slept for an hour before waking up and demanding his next feeding, after which he's wet himself, succeeding in leaking through all over Aragorn's tunic.  Just as Aragorn had finished changing Farothen the baby had then soiled his diaper again.  Following that changing Aragorn had spent his time with walking, taking into consideration that the moment he went to sit Farothen started crying again.

Finally the baby had dozed off...until Aragorn had gone to lay him down in the cradle.  Once more faced with a crying baby Aragorn had walked some more until Farothen dozed of again.  Not wanting to risk waking his son again the ranger decided to sit down in the rocking chair.  Luckily, Farothen had remained sleeping.

Hearing the door of his chambers open Aragorn cracked on eye halfway open and glanced over.  Elrond stood just inside the door smiling slightly at the sight.

Aragorn scowled at his foster father, "Now you come to help.  Why not earlier when he cried constantly unless I walked?  Or soiled his swaddling seconds after I changed him?  Or..."

Elrond chuckled, "Welcome to fatherhood, my son."

"Hmm." Aragorn grunted, "I'm curious what would happen if I sent him to L...his sire.  I bet he couldn't handle it."

"Would you really send him away?" Elrond asked, purposely playing into his foster son's words, "Knowing how much work a baby is, and how tiring, would you give him up, also knowing that a baby means unconditional love and a connection to one you loved enough to create him with?"

Aragorn sighed and looked at the baby asleep against his chest.  Almost immediately he felt a flood of warmth and love at the sight of that innocent little face, nuzzled so trustingly against his shoulder.  He smiled as he met his foster father's gaze.

"No.  He's worth it." Aragorn murmured, pressing a gentle kiss to Farothen's forehead, "He's more than worth it."

Elrond smiled, "As I said...welcome to fatherhood."