Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and I make no money from this writing.

(A/N In reviewing this writing, I have a feeling this should be a stand-alone chapter, since it is set a year in advance of the rest of the story. It was also my first attempt and I hope it will not discourage you from trying out what follows.)

I watch him. In the last months his legs have grown more than the rest of him, so that he seems perched on them, and to be trying to relearn walking. He slouches a little, and drags one foot slightly, his boots new-made to fit his growing feet.

Where is he going now? I don't think he even sees. His attention is all inward, learning himself, listening to himself. He has so many gifts, yet he must grow into them. He sees more, hears more and understands more than other humans of his age, but he does not yet know what to do with these gifts. He plays with them, and that is all he can do as yet.

There, a big brother comes to help him with his sword practice. My youngest son insists on that ridiculously over-sized sword, nearly as tall as he is, and yet he wields it well. Elrohir is a fine swordsman, better perhaps than his twin, but Estel matches him for a moment or two, just – then. Yes. For a ten year old, he is strong in the shoulder and the arm. But his long legs are a bother to him, and he can't step back quickly enough to avoid Elrohir's parry, which almost touches him.

I settle back on the comfortable bench, watching my two sons, wondering when Estel will put down the sword and wander away to do something else. Yet there is an intensity in him this afternoon that takes even his brother by surprise. It seems he feels better in himself today. Yesterday, he was tired and moping, and I found him reading, curled round in a chair in the library, and nothing I could say could tempt him outside. He looked worn by the business of growing.

Today, though he is the bright, eager child he was at six, he is less fretful. Elrohir tries to get him to stop, to rest, but the boy labours on, trying to get at least one step closer to his older and much taller brother. I begin to wonder if Elrohir will relent and let him, but he does not. He could not cheat his brother in that way. Estel would know it and be angry. We've seen enough of that not to treat him as a minute younger than his age.

A few more moments. The boy is tiring rapidly now, and then Elrohir puts his own sword down and suddenly takes his brother in his arms. I can't see what it is that is wrong, frustration perhaps, or he could be overtired, but his face is against his brother's chest and he is sobbing. I stand, ready to do what I can if I am needed, but Elrohir waits, then glances at me, knowing I am watching. He shakes his head. This time, I am not needed.

In a little while, the brothers are talking earnestly, and Estel lays the big sword carefully on the ground. They sit down, slightly apart, and Elrohir points up into the sky. Estel looks up too, and then I know he is being told a story, for I taught the gestures that went with the story to Elrohir many hundreds of years ago. It is a good story to choose, for it can be divided into short tales, and it is a story of a hero who must fight many monsters to win his prize.

It suits Estel, though he does not know it yet. I look into his future, the faint echoes of it that I can see, and I know he will face many monsters. He will need the fire I saw as he strove against his brother with a sword that was too big for him, and a body aching with too much growth.

He is a lovely child. He is kind, and true, and honest with himself and with others. He strives to be brave and strong.

We protect him, Elrohir and Elladan and I, and in time he will grow into his strength and be whatever his destiny intends he should be.

There – Elladan joins his brothers, and they stand, and away my children go, off on some adventure, one tall twin on either side of the boy. Gone are the days when they could take him by the hands and swing him between them, making him laugh with the excitement of it. Yet, in a way, that is what they do, swing him between them, giving him all the encouragement they can, though they are half-elven and do not feel as he feels.

I hope we do him justice, and raise him well. He is the hope of the world.