A/N: This is my first try at fanfiction. Please understand and be gentle. Constructive critiques will be appreciated. This story is AU and in my version Gilraen dies with Arathorn.

Disclaimer: I do not own Tolkien's world. I wouldn't have to work if I did. I just get to play there.

It was a beautiful day; the sun was coming up over the valley shining in the windows of the Last Homely House, and into Estel's room. The five year old awoke; looking out the window he saw the birds singing and the squirrels playing. It had been a long hard winter and he was ready to go and play. Estel decided it was time for his Ada to wake up.

He quietly walked down the corridor; he wanted to surprise his father, so he needed to be extra quiet. He gently opened the door, his Ada was still sleeping, silver eyes slightly open, glazed over. At first his fact had scared Estel, but he soon learned that all Elves slept with their eyes open and now he regarded this phenomena as just one more interesting fact about his family. Silently, slowly he crept across the room; if he was stealthy, maybe his time he could surprise the elf lord. Estel got to the side of the bed; he was about to leap onto his Ada, when two strong arms swept down, picked him up and set him down on the bed.

"Ada! I wanted to surprise you," Estel cried.

"I know tithen pen," said Elrond.

"I just can't be quiet enough…," Estel started to say.

"Ion nin, you made it all the way to the bed before I heard and felt your breathing. Each time you get a little closer, and soon enough you will awaken me by jumping all over me."

Elrond grabbed Estel and started tickling him, the child laughed and squirmed trying to get away. Finally between laughs he gasped, "Ada, please stop."

Elrond stopped, smiled and lay down next to his youngest son. Elrond could still not believe how his life changed the day, almost four years ago, when he took this child in and adopted him. It was no longer quiet in his home with the little whirlwind laying next to him but he loved each and every minute of it. He got to see life through the innocent eyes of a child and he cherished every moment like it would be the last.

Because as Elrond knew it could be the last. Estel was after all, Adan, and mortal. Elrond knew he was taking a chance when he allowed the child into his home and heart. He had healed Elrond's broken heart. He had still been grieving over the loss of his wife, Celebrian, and the child had brought energy and light into his household. He taught everyone in it to live again and the ancient healer knew to treasure every moment with the boy as if it were the last. He knew some day he would lose Estel and he was unsure if he would be able to survive that day. Praying that day was still along way off, he determined "today" he would just love his little Estel.

"When will 'Ro and 'Dan come home," asked Estel. He missed his older twin brothers and could not wait for them to come home.

The ancient elf lord sighed, "As I told you last time you asked, Elladan and Elrohir will be home today, probably this evening." He knew that time meant little to the child but it did get hard to answer the same question, time and again.

The twins had left two weeks ago on business at least that is what they told their father.

"Yay," screamed the child as he jumped up and down on the bed. Elrond cringed as the child the child nearly jumped on parts he would prefer not to have trampled.

"Sit child," Elrond stated as he grabbed Estel and sat him on the bed, next to him.

Suddenly the child stilled and frowned. "What is wrong, ion nin," asked Elrond.

"That is still along time from now," Estel said.

"Maybe we could do something special today, just the two of us. It will make the time go faster."

Estel smiled, "Ok but what?"

Elrond grinned He loved when his little one smiled at him like that. "What would you like to do? Something outside?"

"Yes, Ada outside, please," squealed Estel.

Elrond thought for a minute, "How about a picnic?"

"That would be fun Ada. Could we go down near the river?"

Elrond smiled lovingly at the child. Estel so loved the river at the edge of Imladris. "Yes tithen pen, but now we must dress."

Elrond stood and picked Estel up off bed and set him on his feet. "Go back to your room and allow me to dress. I will then come and assist you."

Estel quickly walked down the hall and into his room. A few minutes later his Ada came as promised, picked out his clothes and got him dressed. Grabbing a brush off the dresser Elrond directed Estel to his side.

"Come ion nin, let me brush your hair." This son's dark wavy hair always became tangled in his sleep. After a few minutes of brushing, Elrond quickly braided Estel's hair.

"Now let's go and eat," stated Elrond stated as he returned the brush to the dresser and picked up his youngest child.

They headed down the hall and into the dining room and found Erestor and Glorfindel were already there and waiting for them.

"Good morning 'restor. Good morning Glorfy," stated Estel, as his Ada set him on his chair.

Elrond smiled as he saw Glorfindel hid a grimace. Estel was the only being allowed to call the balrog slayer, Glorfy, and live to tell about it.

"Good morning," stated both of his closest advisors and friends.

Elrond filled Estel's plate, the morning breakfast smelled delicious and as soon as Elrond handed him the plate Estel dug in. Elrond just shook his head and smiled at his youngest, as he filled his own plate. He had no idea where the child put all that food.

Erestor spoke quickly before he could be interrupted, "M'Lord, today we must start the paperwork for the next council."

Estel started to frown. Maybe his Ada would forget his promise but he should have known better.

"Nay, Erestor. I am going to spend today with Estel. The paperwork can wait. The day is beautiful and Estel is only young for a short time." Elrond took a bite of his food.

"You are right my Lord," said Erestor as he smiled at Estel, the child who had stolen all of their hearts. The little one smiled back as he took another bite.

"What will you be doing," asked Glorfindel.

"We will be going for a picnic," stated Elrond.

"Down by the river," added Estel with glee.

"Shall I go along," questioned Glorfindel.

"No, that is not necessary my friend. It will be just the two of us," said Elrond.

Glorfindel frowned at this. "Elrond, it is not safe for you to go alone. Strangers and orcs have been seen on our borders."

With a sly smile Elrond stated, "Do you question my ability to protect myself and Estel, mellon nin?"

"Nay, I remember only to clearly what you are capable of." Glorfindel knew that although now a healer, Elrond had been an excellent warrior and leader during the first war, and he still practiced the old skills. "I just want to ensure both of your safeties. We both know that trouble is drawn to Estel," replied Glorfindel.

Elrond smiled at that. It did indeed seem that trouble was drawn to Estel. It was even worse when the twins or Legolas were around. "Aye, you are right but I think I can care for us today. If it helps relieve your anxiety we will not cross the borders of Imladris."

"Aye, it helps mellon nin," although anyone could see that Glorfindel was not happy with the compromise.

Estel sat unusually quiet through the exchange. After finishing his food he stated, "Ada, I am finished can I go and get ready to leave?"

"Yes, tithen pen you may go. Meet me at the kitchens, we will pack a basket and leave shortly."

As soon as the boy left the dining room Elrond asked Erestor, "How is everything proceeding with Estel's birthday party?" Estel's birthday was just a few days away.

"Everything goes well. The twins return with Legolas this evening. Galadriel and Celeborn should also arrive this evening," said Erestor.

When the twins had decided to travel to Mirkwood, Elrond had seized the opportunity to invite the elf to Estel's party. It also ensured the twins would not be late, although it did nothing for their safety. It would seem that three should be safer traveling than two, but this did not automatically apply to these three. It was rare when at least one did not return injured from one of their trips.

Galadriel and Celeborn's arrival was a surprise for Estel. He had not seen his grandparents in a long time and missed them greatly. They also missed their youngest grandson and wished to see him. They did not get a chance to visit as often as they would have liked, with running a kingdom. Elrond was glad they could come but was sadden to learn that Arwen could not join them. She needed to stay behind and take care of everything in her grandparent's absence.

As he finished his last bite of food Elrond replied , "Good, I need to go and get ready for our picnic." He stood and left the dining room.

Elrond went and retrieved his sword and a dagger as he knew Glorfindel would never let them leave without taking them. Elrond was slightly concerned with what Glorfindel told him; it would not do having orcs near. He realized the need for extra patrols to ensure the valley's safety.

Elrond also knew of his young son's terror of the nasty creatures. The child had good reason. Although only a baby he had been present when orcs slaughtered his birth mother and father. The twins had arrived and killed the orcs but they could not save Gilrean or Arathorn

They did, however, prevent the orcs killing the baby and took him home with them. Elrond knew the child's destiny and decided for the child's protection to take him, raise him and love him as his own. Elrond named him Estel, elvish for hope. For that was what he was, Elrond's and mankind's hope.

Elrond met Estel at the door to the kitchen. The boy was jumping up and down with excitement.

"Shall we see what they have packed us for lunch," Elrond asked Estel.

"Yes, Ada, then will we leave," asked Estel.

"Aye, we shall," replied Elrond as he pushed the door open.

As they entered Elrond saw a basket on a table. "It is ready Lord Elrond," stated one of the cooks as he gave Estel a smile, "and it contains Estel's favorites."

"Hannon le," replied Elrond, "let's us depart," as he picked up the basket.

Glorfindel met them at the front door. "Mellon nin, I see you are leaving. Have you changed your mind, may I escort you?"

"No, I haven't changed my mind Glorfindel," stated Elrond with a laugh, "we shall be fine old friend."

Glorfindel gave in. He knew Elrond would not change his mind. "I am just worried. I do not like the activities on our borders." Elrond knew Glorfindel would not talk of orcs in front of Estel. "Have fun then and be safe."

"We shall, and do not worry we will return late this afternoon, before the twins arrive. We want to meet them," Elrond said.

Elrond and Estel walked out the front door, down the path and out the front gate. The little boy ran with excitement. It had been a long time since he had been on an adventure with his Ada. Elrond smiled and called his son back. "Do not get to far ahead."

As he walked Elrond thought they would have a great time. The weather was perfect and they were together.

He did not see the darkness and trouble the near future held……

Translations:

Ada- Dad or Daddy

Tithen pen- little one

Ion nin- my son

Mellon nin- my friend

Hannon le- thank you