Title: For Estel

Author: Ice Cube

Rating: PG-13

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.

Characters: Estel, Elladan, Elrohir, Elrond, Legolas, Glorfindel, Erestor…I think that's it

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

Summary: Estel's first trip to Mirkwood is anything but uneventful. But when things turn for the worse, will his brother have the strength to remain in Arda? Or will he sail to his mother?

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 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 and brotherhood, I take that in the trust you with my life and have no problem telling you about my current crush who is of the opposite sex way. In other words, if you're looking for slash, you won't find it here. By the way, like almost everything I've ever written, it's AU, so take that into account. Gilraen is missing from this and all my stories, 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. Besides, it says that Elrond took in Estel as a son somewhere in the appendices I think…

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 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…

Chapter 1

Late at night, the members of the Last Homely House slept on through the storm that raged. The cracks of thunder and bursts of lightning ripped through the sky as the rain pelted the roof and windows, and jolted one suddenly from his nightmares. Tears streaking down his face, a raggedy teddy bear clutched firmly in his grip, Estel sat up straight in his oversized bed and, biting his lip, glanced towards the door. Having lived in Imladris for four years now, the boy was still reluctant to anger the Lord Elrond or his twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir, by waking them in the middle of the night.

Easing back against his pillows, the six year old resolved to get past the gristly images of monsters killing his parents and leave the Elves to their sleep. Another crack of thunder, however, sent the child skittering out into the hall and through a door to his closest brother's room. Stopping only for an instant, Estel bolted up onto the bed and under the blankets.

Startled from his sleep by the movement, Elladan let his eyes focus and took in the small, shivering lump that could only be the form of his little brother. "Estel?" he whispered before sitting up and reaching under the covers. Pulling the boy from hiding briefly brought feelings of déjà vu from four years previous, but the Elf pushed these memories away and shifted his charge to his lap. "Another nightmare, tithen pen?"

Estel sniffled and nodded, sinking into the safe, warm embrace of his brother. Strong arms were encircled upon him, and within minutes, his tears had slowed and stopped. Still clinging to Elladan's sleep tunic, Estel's breathing began to even out once more.

"What happened, Estel? Do you want to talk about it?" Elladan, as well as his twin and his father, had a pretty good idea of what the terrors that plagued Estel's sleep were, but in the four years that they had cared for the boy, he would not say a word about what sent him skittering so often through the House at these late hours. He didn't really expect an answer, therefore, and simply rubbed Estel's back when the boy's head buried deeper into Elladan's tunic.

"Are you ready to go back to your bed now, gwador nin?" Elladan didn't expect the look of sheer terror on Estel's face and pulled him tighter into a hug.

"Can I…would it be possible if I…may I…'Dan, do I have to? I'm scared." The last statement was more of a breath than even a whisper, as if even now, Estel didn't want to show any sign of weakness. His breathing hitched once more, Estel clutched his bear in one arm and tangled his fingers in Elladan's shirt more tightly, almost afraid of the answer.

As Elladan's eyes met the tear glazed, silver one of the six year old, he smiled reassuringly. Words weren't necessary as Estel climbed off the Elf's lap and lay down next to him. For his part, the elder brother lay down and pulled the boy close once more, resting his head with his chin on Estel's unruly brown locks.

Estel had settled back into the pillows and under the covers, gripping Elladan's fingers tightly in his own. "They can't come and get me, can they 'Dan? You won't let them?"

"Of course not, tithen pen. No one can hurt you here with Ada, 'Ro, and I to protect you. Who do you think is coming to get you?" Elladan chose his words carefully, trying to get the boy to talk to him.

It was like Elladan's words had opened the floodgates on Estel's frights. "The monsters. The ones in my dreams. The ones that killed my Nana and Ada. They're always coming for me; they want to get me too. I can see them in my room sometimes; they're behind the curtains and behind the doors." Estel was shaking now, his eyes screwed shut, Belur clutched tightly in his left arm. "I can't get away from them, even when I open my eyes and sit up. They like how dark my room is and they don't want to go away until they get me." Estel bit his lip and squeezed his right hand more tightly. Elladan's slender fingers turned more brightly red.

"Oh Estel," Elladan sat up with the boy and ignited the candle by his bed, pulling his brother back into his lap. "Ada and 'Ro and I will never let the monsters get you. Ever. No one will hurt you here."

"But 'Dan, you're in my dreams too, and you can't help my Ada or my Nana." Estel sniffled and looked into his brother's eyes, seeing the look of failure only briefly before it was masked with resolve.

"Estel, I swear it to you like I swore to your mother. By my name as a son of Elrond, and my honor as an Elf, I swear that while you are here in Imladris no harm will come to you, and I will protect you from as much as I possibly can, even if it means my life is forfeit. Do you understand?" Estel nodded before lying back down. Elladan covered him once more and reached to pinch out the flame. Then he thought better of it and relaxed into his pillows.

"'Dan?" the boy whispered.

"Yes, Estel?"

"You forgot to tell me a bedtime story tonight."

A smile passed over Elladan's lips and he thought for a minute before spinning a tale about a young prince and his teddy bear. Estel was asleep before the Elf had to come up with a plotline.

Elrond woke early the next morning and, after making himself presentable, walked out of his rooms. Turning a corner, the esteemed Elf Lord almost tumbled his middle son to the ground. Elrohir was peering into Elladan's room.

"Ion nin? What are you doing? Wait; don't answer that if you are playing some sort of prank on your brother. And where is Estel?"

Elrohir smirked at his father. "Ada!" he lengthened the word to show his incredulity. "I can't believe you would think that."

Elrond looked at his son carefully before feeling his forehead. "Well, you haven't been poisoned by anything…"

"If I were playing a prank on 'Dan, Ada, I'd be long gone by now. As to where Estel is, look for yourself."

Elrond moved next to the younger twin with a smirk of his own and took in the sight. Elladan was lying on his stomach, half off the bed, his feet and legs sticking out from under the covers. His head was half buried under the pillows and his arms were still protecting the young human from his nightmares. Estel was also on his stomach, his head on top of the pillows over Elladan's, his left arm hanging off the mattress clutching his teddy bear, Belur. The rest of the boy was spread across the bed, having taken over the majority of the space.

"You wouldn't think someone so small could take up so much room." Elrond commented before guiding Elrohir from the doorway and towards the dining Hall. They had made it no more than five meters when they heard a crash. Running back to the room the two Elves saw Estel still sleeping on the bed, and Elladan's foot poking out from the side. Seconds later, the elder twin stood from the ground, rubbing his back.

"Well that didn't look too becoming of an Elf, 'Dan." Elrohir ran from the room, his brother on his heels.

Rivendell's Lord sat down on the bed, resting his hand on his youngest son's back, feeling the steady rhythm that his son's breathing made. "Another nightmare, Estel? I wish you would be able to feel safe here and sleep well. Lle na I estel o edain, tithen pen, a lle na ion nin sui mae." Elrond sat at his son's side, rubbing his back until the boy woke a short while later.

"Ada? Maer aur. I'm hungry."

"Maer aur, Estel. Let's go eat then, shall we?" He smiled as the boy nodded and jumped from the bed. Elrond followed him to the Hall where two sopping wet Elves were sitting innocently. It appeared that Elladan had caught Elrohir.

Surprisingly, breakfast ran smoothly for the three sons and their father. All four were thinking of the trip to Mirkwood that the twins were about to take Estel on. It was the first trip that Estel was to take to meet the royal prince and his father, and as much as Lord Elrond wanted to accompany the boys, pressing matters with Glorfindel interfered. Elrond wondered exactly how his sons had paid the advisor back for that convenience.

Estel and the twins finished their breakfast in record time, and as soon as they had permission, bolted to their rooms to pack.

"Estel, go to your room and get your pack and Belur. I'll be in to get your things and teach you how to pack in a minute."

"Yes, 'Dan." The boy ran off to his room and dug his pack out from under the bed, his foray in the night already forgotten. He jumped up onto his bed and rifled through the covers for the worn looking bear. He had soon ripped the bed apart, sheet by sheet, and sat amongst the bed linens. Eyes wide and tears in his eyes, Estel sat for a moment before jumping to his feet and sprinting to find Elladan. He would know what to do.

The twins were both almost packed, herbs and blankets still littering their beds as they argued over who was taking what. Elrohir had just lost the argument and was shoving the woven blankets into his sack when a six-year old blur sped by him and launched himself onto the bed. The twins missed the silver lines that accented his cheeks, and they ignored Estel for the time being.

Knowing that he should be patient, Estel bit his lip to stave off the tears, but the sight of Elladan's old stuffed rabbit, stored carefully out of the way on a table that held some of his mother's possessions ripped a sob from his throat.

Both twins stopped what they were doing at their brother's cry. Moving reflexively to wrap him in their safe embrace, the two were momentarily confused. Estel sank into their arms, sniffling quietly. Turning into Elrohir's shoulder, the boy could feel Elladan rub his back.

"What is the matter, gwador nin?" The elder twin asked, not realizing that a bear at his feet would solve the problem quickly.

The reply was muffled, and even Elrohir, whose ear was resting atop Estel's head, couldn't make it out. "What was that, tithen pen?" He pulled the boy's face away from his shoulder, still conveying safety.

"B-B-Belur went away." The cryptic answer conveyed the youthfulness still abundant in Estel's mind. Sometimes the twins forgot that Estel was just leaving the toddler stage.

"Went away? What do you mean, Estel?"

"Well, during breakfast he must have run away, because he's not in my room now. Trust me, I looked. Why doesn't he want to stay with me anymore?" He looked with wide eyes at his brothers, silently willing them to show him where Belur had wandered.

Elladan laughed in spite of himself, causing the boy to scowl and turn back to Elrohir's shoulder. For his part, the younger twin hugged the boy and glared at his elder.

"Why do you laugh at him? What would happen if your rabbit was lost?"

"No, I know, 'Ro. Belur isn't lost at all."

Estel sniffled and looked up at his eldest brother while the middle Elrondion held a confused stare.

"He's not?" The two mirrored each other's words. Elladan, for his part, slid off the bed and retrieved the cherished toy from his bedclothes. Holding up the bear, he caught his baby brother as the human launched himself from one twin to the other, a smile replacing the frown that had marred Estel's innocent features.

"Thank you 'Dan, you found him!" Giggles erupted as he was caught between the two Elves as they tickled him for a few minutes before sending him off to remake his bed.

Finally packed and past their father's inspection, the three made their way to the stables. Walking into the rustic area, Estel moved unconsciously closer to his brothers. He looked up at the animals and cringed.

"Don't worry, Estel, there are smaller ones." Elladan laughed, but some unconscious fear had set in on the boy, and he looked from one Elf to the other.

"Can't I ride with one of you?" He gulped. The only time he could remember being on a horse had been with his father sitting behind him.

"You can, tithen pen, but don't you want to start riding by yourself?" Elrohir looked at his twin and then down to the human, not sure what the problem was. Part of this journey was to teach Estel the finer points of riding by himself. The twins could see, however, fear, and not curiosity in the boy's eyes, and relented.

"Maybe next time?"

"Maybe. I don't think I'll ever ride a horse by myself. I like my own two feet on the ground, thank you."

The twins laughed, knowing that, in all probability, the boy would be riding on his own before long. Sending him back out to play under the trees, Elladan and Elrohir tacked their horses, securing their packs. They mounted on identical horses and urged them out into the fresh air. Reaching down to Estel's outstretched arms, Elladan pulled the squirming human to sit in front of him. The Elf felt his brother tense under the power of the beast and resorted to tickling him. The result was instantaneous, and soon the Elrondions were on their way to Mirkwood.

Estel's eyes were wide by the time he and his brothers had stopped for the night. Passing through the Wilds, he had seen firsthand many of the different animals and plants that Glorfindel and his father had taught him about. He had chattered away to his brothers, pointing out what he knew, and quizzing them on what he didn't. The young student's wide eyes were soon accompanied by poorly stifled yawns, however, prompting the Elves to bring their horses to a stop.

"Why are we stopping?" Estel turned to look at Elladan, questioningly.

"Because, tithen pen, it is getting dark, and the horses are tired." Elrohir answered for his brother, coming up and reaching to gather Estel into his arms so that Elladan could dismount as well. The human was set on his feet while packs were removed so that a lean-to could be set up. Estel watched as his brothers quickly set up camp, working with an efficiency that only two who knew each other so well could muster. Little could Estel guess that this scene would one day be mirrored with himself and another Elf setting up to bed down for the night, with a Dwarf left to his own amazement.

When a small, smokeless fire was glowing in the clearing, Estel found himself being lulled to sleep by the flickering dance of the orange flames. He barely noticed when his dinner was placed in his hands, nor did he notice the eldest Elrondion sitting on the log next to him. The boy did notice, however, that as the length of time increased when the fire disappeared from view, and he noticed when he was next pulled to his feet and led to the lean-to.

"But 'Dan, I'm not sleepy," he protested.

"You must be, gwador nin, it's been a long time since you've mistaken me for my brother. Now lay down; 'Dan is getting Belur for you." Elrohir smiled as the Edan complied, a small bear soon accompanying him.

The two had just made it back to the fire circle once more when a small voice rang out. "But 'Dan, my story!"

It had taken three stories and a song for Estel to be comfortable enough to sleep by himself in the Wilds, and yet, he was still up before his brothers, eager to see more of the woods. He sat in his bedroll, twiddling his thumbs, and trying to be patient. More patient than most 6 year-olds, Estel sat still for longer than most Edain children, but his attention span was soon drawn to the trees. It had rained after the twins had retired for the night, and to Estel, it seemed that the roots were wriggling.

Silently freeing himself from his blankets, Estel scurried across the wet campsite to investigate. There, at his feet, dozens of worms were burrowing back into the ground. A twinkle sparkled in the boy's eyes, a characteristic brightening on an Elrondion's eye that was only now being awakened in the child. The slightest smirk could be observed as Estel peeked back to where his brother's still lay, and then stooped down. He carefully extracted two of the creatures and ran back to the lean-to.

Creeping over to Elladan and Elrohir, the child carefully laid his prizes on the faces of his brothers before slipping back under his covers and closing his eyes. Safely in his bed, the boy quickly rubbed his hands and feet on the blanket, cleaning away the last traces of evidence. It would only be a matter of time now.

Consciousness returned, unbidden, to both twins almost simultaneously as one worm found Elrohir's mouth habitable, and the other found Elladan's nose much the same way. Snorting and choking, the twins sat up, threw the worms back to nature, and then glared at each other before realizing that the other was no guiltier than he. Two sets of eyes darted to the still-sleeping Estel.

"You don't think…"

"He's far too young…"

"He wouldn't have…"

Still Estel feigned sleep, rolling over and letting his hand slide out from the bedroll to rest on the ground. He looked, to the twins, to be far too engrossed in his dreams to be faking.

Grumbling about the Valar's humor, the two set about preparing breakfast before rousing the boy. He, in turn, stumbled out to the fire circle before giggling.

"'Ro, there's dirt on your face," he said innocently, "and yours too, 'Dan. What happened?" He watched as the two dove for their water skeins, using sparing amounts to restore their fair complexions to flawlessness. They missed the momentary grin that stole across Estel's face before it was quickly steeled to tired indifference. "What's for breakfast?"

Various nuts and berries disappeared that morning before the campfire was checked to be cold and the lean-to was broken down. It wasn't long before the three were on their way again, Estel only reluctantly mounting his brother's horse when Elladan offered him a sweet that had been pilfered from the kitchens for just this problem. Estel didn't see why he couldn't just walk; they weren't in any hurry…yet.

Gwador nin – my brother

Ion nin – my son

Ada – dad, daddy

Lle na I estel o edain, tithen pen, a lle na ion nin sui mae – you are the hope of man, little one, but you are also my son

Maer aur – good morning

Belur – Scruffy

Tithen pen – little one