The gentle heart weeps

For hearts separated by distance

Night falls darkly with stars aglimmer

The moon shall wane and wax

The sun shall rise and fall

Dawn and dusk shall come and pass

Till I speak to you again

My heart will be counting the minutes

While I dream and while I wake.

            "Nay, dear lord, that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.

""nen i-Estel Edain. Ú-chebin estel anim." I give hope to Men. I keep none for myself."

            Those words forever echoed in King Eldarion's mind as he watched his mother ride away from the city of Minas Tirith.

            The great king of Gondor had passed away and the beautiful Evenstar had fled to the forest and to fade to await her fate. King Eldarion took the throne to reign over the kingdom of men that his father united. The Kingdom of Men was not blessed with overall peace. Many people from far reaching lands resisted being ruled by a boy, as they saw it when Eldarion took throne. Minas Tirith was cocky and pompous to everyone that looked from the outside in. The people that were not settled were ones that were not seen as a military force…the Corsairs of Umbar. For after all, some men are never happy with what they possess and always want more. Men will always be greedy and power and wealth will always be desired. The Corsairs also knew that their people were also diminishing. They moved to Minas Tirith to be closer to their king and forgot their heritage. What was a better way to go out then with a bang, one last stand?

            Eldarion tried to quell the uprising as best he could but he was not learned well in this. He had learned much from his studies and from his father but all of it was spoken and read in books; he never had to deal with it, hands on. The advisors bickered about ways to solve the problems of state. He wished that his father's friends, Legolas and Gimli were there to give him words of advice but the two friends were traveling the lands. Eldarion was counting the days that they would come back to Minas Tirith and visit so he could ask for their words of wisdom. Some nights he wished that his father was still there to give him council and advice, but he wasn't. At times, when he stood out on a balcony, alone with the night and the dark city of Minas Tirith, he could almost hear his father's voice on the wind. He told no one of what he heard or what he thought about it, but it calmed him to think that his father was watching over him. But more than anything, he wished his father could be here for one hour so Eldarion could ask the questions that he wanted to ask.

            He never stopped to think that he might get the chance.

            The surrounding white soothed him and offered no reason to be alarmed. Why was he here? Where was here? He couldn't remember ever coming here. Who was he? He wore a pair of cream leggings and a cream tunic while barefoot. Turning his head to look to his side, dark brown hair swayed into his line of sight and he slowly fingered it. So, he had dark brown hair; that was good to know instead of nothing. His fingers were long and well muscled with scars dotting the tanned skin.

            "Elessar, you have been brought before us to be a guide."

            He spun in a circle and didn't find the person that spoke only a moment prior. The room was just as empty as it was earlier and nothing had changed. He was sure that he heard a voice. Didn't he? Who is this Elessar they speak of? Was that his name? He couldn't remember anything.

            "You shall remember your previous life."

            Images and memories suddenly flooded his mind as he cried out and fell to the ground. His hands gripped the sides of his head as someone's life flashed before his eyes at an amazing pace. An aged dark-haired elf comforted a young human boy and wiped away tears, two identical dark-haired elves taught a young boy the art of swordplay and tracking. A young man's time spent with the Rangers of the North, a blond-haired archer that smiled brightly and joked with the human. A small hobbit, an evil ring, a dwarf, fierce battles and countless wounds crowded his mind; mental anguish and overwhelming self-doubts and wavering confidence in himself. A beautiful elf maiden with a soft smile, a wailing baby in her arms while she looked up at a teary-eyed and beaming king. A king in kingly robes teaching a young boy swordplay with a wooden sword, and being tackled by the young child before falling to the ground. Laughter and giggles echoed in the courtyard, the smiling blonde elf laughing and applauding the young boy as he sat on the king's chest. He was the king! These were his memories! Everything else rushed back to him and he remembered his entire life…up to his death. Arwen crying silently at his side while Legolas and Gimli stood quietly in the shadows. Eldarion whispered his final goodbyes to his dying father before leaving quietly to give his mother and father privacy. Legolas and Gimli eventually followed him after saying their farewells to their comrade and King. 'Nay, dear lord, that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.'

            His head jerked back as the memories abruptly ended and he staggered momentarily before getting his feet back under him. Now he really wanted to know where he was.

            "You are standing in front of the Valar, son of Arathorn. Your son needs you, as do your people. Minas Tirith is being attacked and the advisors bicker without action. Your son needs you and asks for you upon the wind, hoping against hope that someone will hear him. He needs hope and hope he shall get."

            "What are you talking about? I have passed; it is my son's time on the throne, not mine," he responded to the whiteness surrounding him.

            "It shall be his time on the throne but he needs help to make him feel like he belongs there. The Evenstar has departed from his life and his father's close companions are soon to leave also. He will be alone and no advisor can help him through this. He needs trusted words that come from one that seek to only aid him and not someone else. He shall get who he asks for…he shall get you for a time."

            "I can not go back to my son! I am dead and have been placed at the Silent Street in my tomb," he yelled, only imagining what the city would be like if he came back from the dead.

            He thought it was odd that he was arguing to remain dead but he didn't really care. He was worried about the effect this would have on the city of Minas Tirith and on his family. To get him back and then to lose him again? He didn't want to put his family through that torture and emotional pain.

            "You would not return as you once were. You shall assume a new form as an elf. It is up to you if you decide to tell them who you are but think of the consequences prior to divulging that information. We shall call you back when you have finished. Not before and not after."

            Aragorn dropped to the ground and stared blankly ahead of him. This could not be happening; was this all real? Return to Middle-Earth as an elf? Could he pull it off and help his son? Being that close to his son and companions without letting something slip would test his mental abilities. The Valar must have some trust in him to bring him back and offer this chance to him. But to see his son grown up and be the king that Aragorn knew he could be; his heart would swell with pride of his son. Offered the chance to see his son as a young man and rule the kingdom…Aragorn would give his life ten times over for just an hour. He was being offered this chance…nay, not just an hour but more than that.

            "Well, son of Arathorn? Your decision?"

            "I will do it for my son and kingdom," he replied as he climbed to his feet and stood tall.

            "So be it."

            The ground suddenly fell out from under him and he fell into a black abyss where thought strayed from him.

            Aragorn blinked his eyes and stared at the foliage above him as the sun light filtered through the trees that surrounded him. Lifting a hand, he looked at the finely sculpted and smooth hand as he flexed it and turned to look at the back. Dropping his hand to his side, he pushed himself up and looked around the forest that he was in. The trees were thick and dense, allowing only a little bit of sunlight to filter through the leaves but it was enough. His eyes saw every detail of the trees and dirt that littered the forest floor as he listened closely. Underlying every forest sound was a dim humming and when he focused on it, he heard soft-spoken voices that seemed to come from everywhere around him. The voices were coming from the trees! He could hear the trees speak as Legolas once was always fascinated by and spoke to him about. They whispered of the new elf amid them and his ancient feel.

            Looking down at himself, he ran his hands along his body and felt solid muscles and powerful tendons. He was garbed in clothes that were common to all elves. Gray suede leggings, a light gray tunic, a dark jerkin, and knee high soft leather boots. Silver colored hair fell into his line of vision when he bent his head and he slowly fingered the silky strands and warrior braids before tucking the hair behind his ear. His fingers lingered at the ears and he distinctly felt the unmistakable tip that easily set elves apart from men. Beside him lay in perfect order, a quiver full of arrows, a bow, a set of twin blades and a small dagger that the Valar decided to bless him with. No need him being injured or killed on his way to Minas Tirith, was there? Standing, he picked everything up and strapped the weapons onto his person before looking around. After a few minutes it was official, he had no clue where he was. Looking at one of the trees, he slowly smiled before running towards it and leaping gracefully onto the lowest branch. Strength coursed through his veins as he quickly and confidently climbed the branches to the very top. His balance was perfect as he stood on a thin branch and looked out above the forest tops and surveyed the surrounding land. It would probably be best if he headed southward and hoped for the best. Climbing back down, he started walking in that direction and just enjoyed the sun shining on him. He marveled at his ability to look into distant lands with his new eyes; his ears could hear the wind blowing by him and brush against the grass. He had to remember to keep from saying certain things and change some mannerisms of himself. He still had yet to decide whether he would tell them who he was or not. A new name would be needed upon reaching Minas Tirith; he very well could not be going around being called Estel. That would raise far too many questions and looks. His mind skimmed through the forms of Elvish languages and soon found a name that seemed fitting. He would be named Renatus from the high-tongue of elves. He chuckled at the meaning and thought it seemed very much fitting, to be born again or re-begotten. Very fitting indeed, he thought.

            Aragorn didn't know how long he walked but the day passed slowly and he eventually saw the peeks of the White Mountains and he knew that he was getting close. Smiling brightly, he started an easy jog and hoped to reach the city by nightfall. He traveled along a well-worn road that led straight towards Minas Tirith and seemed to be used mostly for cart traffic. His eyes noticed small changes of the lands around him and knew that the changes happened while he was gone; it saddened him to know of how much of his son's life he had missed. And what of his daughters? Were his daughters grown and as beautiful as their mother? An ache in his heart blossomed when he thought of Arwen and her sorrow. He never wanted her to hurt like she was when he knew that he would die and she would not. Elrond was right when he told Aragorn that it was better if Arwen sailed with her kind. She would not have to taste the bitterness of mortality if she had not married him. But she had wanted it; she had loved him that much and would not think of anything else. Every second he loved her and only grew to love her more with the time that they spent together. He thought that his heart would burst from love when Eldarion was born and each daughter after that. His family had been his everything, his life.

            Sighing deeply, he slowed to a walk and brushed the loose strands of hair from his face. Sudden doubts were starting to nag at him and creating worse case scenarios of what could happen. What if everything went wrong and he couldn't stop it? He knew that he wouldn't be able to bear it if he watched his son become injured.

            He suddenly stopped his train of thought when his sensitive ears picked up a conversation on the wind that blew past him. A loud, gruff laugh and a melodious laugh struck a cord of memory in him and he suddenly sucked in a deep breath. He knew those laughs; he knew them by heart. His feet suddenly sped him away and he sprinted in the direction of the laughs, hoping that it was what and who he thought it was. Reaching the crest of a small hill, he looked down into the small valley and felt his breath freeze in his lungs. The two beings rode on the white horse and laughed at a joke that one had just told. Long blond hair shimmered under the sun of the taller one while the red hair of the shorter one contrasted sharply to the blond. It was the same two that he had gone through thick and thin with; his companions through the worst that the Dark Lord of Mordor could dish out. It was Legolas of the Woodland realm, Prince of Mirkwood and Lord of Ithilian; and Gimli, son of Gloin, Lord of the Glittering Caves, and elf-friend. Aragorn suddenly felt slightly faint as he gazed upon the two people that he never thought he would see again. With a jolt, he saw Legolas' head snap around and look directly at him. He couldn't do this. This was all wrong. He wasn't supposed to be able to see his friends again after his death. It was just all wrong in so many ways. He watched as Legolas motioned for Gimli to look towards him standing on the small hill. Arod turned towards him and moved up the hill as Aragorn slowly backed away and worked to steady his breathing. He must do this; he thought sternly and lifted his head, as he stood straighter.

            Legolas had not changed since he last remembered seeing him, but something was different. Aragorn couldn't tell exactly what it was and he was usually able to read the elf pretty well. His eyes seemed a bit dimmer as if the sparkle had wanned to leave his eyes a bit more sorrowful. Gimli looked a bit older but not by much and the faint gray hairs of his beard and hair were the only signs that Aragorn could see. He would have to remember not to mention anything for Gimli would probably take offense as he usually did about any comment made that could imply that he was becoming weak. A few moments later and the horse was standing in front of him with its two riders as he looked up.

            "Greetings to you fellow elf," Legolas said in Sindarin and Aragorn froze for a moment before regaining use of his tongue.

            "And to you also."

            Aragorn bowed his head in greeting and respect to hide the momentary flinch. The voice sounded nothing like his own when he was human and it would take some time getting use to hearing it himself. His new voice was light and airy, sounding very close to most elves.

            "I am Legolas of Ithilian and this is my companion, Gimli, Lord of the Glittering Caves," Legolas introduced in Westron as Aragorn bowed his head to Gimli.

            "I have heard much of the strength of the dwarves and their prowess in battle. I am…Renatus of…Lorien," he stated and swore at his stumbling through the simple statement.

            He knew exactly what he had wanted to say but when it came down to it, he still wanted to say his human name. He only hoped that they didn't notice the slight bumble and hesitancy.

            "Where do you travel to? There are not many elves left in these lands and most are in Ithilian. There are almost none left in Lorien last that I heard," Legolas commented as an elegant eyebrow rose slightly.

            Legolas had noticed the hesitancy of the other elf's identity. He had never seen the elf before in his life but there was something nagging at him about the fellow elf. Something telling him that he should know the other. His name was also very unique and thought it odd that an elf would be given a name meaning to be 're-begotten'. However, the name seemed almost fitting in some sense.

            "There are a few left that do not desire to depart these lands as of yet. I am one of those. I am traveling towards Minas Tirith to visit Eld-the king. I am going to visit the king."

            Legolas' eyebrows shot up and Aragorn swore at himself. He knew that he shouldn't have jumped that quickly into the explanation. He remembered how sharp Legolas could be when something sounded a bit out of place and his comment had just sent up warnings in the elf's mind. Aragorn held the elf's gaze and watched as Legolas' eyes narrowed slightly.

            "How do ye know King Eldarion?" Gimli asked and Aragorn was glad to break gazes with Legolas.

            "I was good friends with his father, King Elessar and the Evenstar."

            A flash of pain crossed Legolas' and Gimli's face to show that Aragorn had struck a cord. Legolas glanced away and an uncomfortable silence filled the air as Gimli moved to slide off Arod. When Legolas turned to look back at Aragorn, the archer's eyes were dark and stoic as he helped Gimli dismount.

            "We should be going. I want to reach Minas Tirith before dusk," he said and turned Arod to start walking.

            Aragorn swore at himself silently as Gimli stood beside him. Their first meeting again and Legolas hates him. Marvelous, he grumbled before walking with Gimli by his side.

Well, there is my new story. I hope everyone likes it so far. Linuvial Greenleaf put the idea in my head and it just would not leave so I had to put it down and it started to really evolve so here it is. Please review for me and tell me what you think so far. Until next update.