A/N: There is a slight deviation from canon in this story. Rather than having Arathorn slain when he was 'riding against the orcs with the sons of Elrond', I have assumed that Aragorn and Gilraen were with him and they were heading to Imladris to live for a time. In the Silmarillion it says 'In that house the house of Elrond were harboured the Heirs of Isildur, in childhood and old age, because of the kinship of their blood with Elrond himself…'. The quote continues, but this made me think that Aragorn would have been taken to Imladris for his own protection at some point, so why not when he was two? The twins are still there, acting as escort, but they were not out specifically to hunt orcs. I know that is not Tolkien's version, but I need things to happen a bit differently for this story to work. Therefore, this story can be considered slightly AU. I am also using a history created for Elladan and Elrohir by Cassia and Sio. I do have their permission to use Dehlfalhen and Glamferaen, which were their creations.
A/N 2: This story was inspired by the May/June Teitho prompt: 'If I could turn back time'. Unfortunately, the idea that popped into my head for that prompt was far too massive for a Teitho story. This story is unfinished at the moment, though I am working on it.
Please read this and review. If you have any ideas for changes to the history of Middle-earth that you would like to suggest as the story progresses, please feel free to e-mail me at mistycracraft at and let me know what they are. If they fit well with other plot elements I have planned, I may use them.
Aragorn laughed as Elrohir vehemently denied Elladan's accusation that it was all Elrohir's fault when they were caught smuggling a wild raccoon into the Last Homely House when they were mere elflings of thirty years. Aragorn loved hearing tales of the twin's early years. And he loved having his brothers visit. Now that he was king of Gondor and Arnor, he saw them all too seldom. However, with the arrival of Gondor's new crown prince, they had traveled from Imladris for an extended visit. They had arrived two weeks ago, in plenty of time for the birth of their nephew, and did not intend to leave for several more weeks. They were determined to help their brother and sister in this time of drastic change. Though neither twin had children of their own, they claimed that helping to raise Arwen and Estel made them experts in the art of child rearing. Aragorn had his doubts about that claim, but he was thoroughly enjoying their company, nonetheless. At the moment, the three of them were gathered in the sitting room that connected Elrohir's and Elladan's bedrooms. Arwen had kicked all three of them out of the royal quarters, claiming they made too much noise and were disturbing Eldarion. Aragorn suspected she was getting irritated with their constant hovering and wanted some time alone with her new son. Since following her wishes seemed the best course of action, the three of them had made a strategic retreat to the sitting room, where they were now sharing and comparing stories of their lives.
Chuckling as the debate raged on over an escapade thousands of years in the past, Aragorn stretched out and slouched down in his very comfortable chair. Letting his mind wander, Aragorn found his thoughts drifting to the people he had known in his life, those that were still with him, and those who had not lived to see this day. Thinking about those that had passed on sobered Aragorn quickly and he found himself dwelling on his regrets, all the things that he wished he could have changed, if only he had known about them beforehand.
"Aragorn?" Aragorn's head came up as he heard his name and he looked back and forth between the twins, wondering which one had spoken.
"I asked whose story you believed," Elrohir said with a twinkle in his eye. His expression became serious as he saw the expression on Aragorn's face. "You were not listening, were you?" He shook his head as Aragorn opened his mouth to apologize. "It is not important. What are you thinking about?"
Aragorn sighed, trying to pull his thoughts into some semblance of order. He straightened up in his seat as he thought of what to say. "I cannot explain it, but I found myself thinking about my father." He glanced up at them. "My human father, Arathorn, not Elrond. Though I never truly knew him, I find that in this moment, having just become a father myself, there is so much that I wish he could have seen, could have known. He never saw me grow up, never knew the man I became. So much happened in my life, for me personally and as the heir to the throne. I know that he would be proud that Sauron was defeated and the kingdom restored, but I don't know what he would have thought of me, of my life here, of Eldarion. I would have liked to know my father, to have him in my life and the life of my son."
The twins glanced at each other, a look passing between them that said all they needed to say. In unison, they turned back to Aragorn. Elrohir was the first to speak.
"Your father would have been very proud of you, Aragorn. Not just for the defeat of Sauron and the reuniting of the kingdoms, but he would have been very proud of you for who you are. Had the ring not resurfaced and had you lived out the remainder of your life as he did, as the Chieftain of the Dúnedain, still he would have been proud of you. You are everything he had hoped you would become, Aragorn."
Elladan took up where Elrohir left off. "Arathorn was a close friend of ours, Aragorn. Though I do not claim that I knew his thoughts on every matter, I do know that he loved you intensely. We had many discussions after you were born on what his hopes and dreams were for you and your life. You have lived up to and surpassed them all, Aragorn. In the end, though, he only wanted you to be happy, whether or not you ever became king. He long felt that he would not live to see you grown to full manhood. The fear of what would happen to you in his absence gave him many sleepless nights. Long before he was killed, he asked us to promise to protect you and Gilraen should the worst come to pass."
"It was because of this promise that you brought me to Imladris?" Aragorn asked, not having heard this before.
Elladan glanced at Elrohir a moment before looking back to Aragorn. "In part, though we would have done so anyway. We have never told you much about the day your father died, not wanting to stir frightful memories that once disturbed your sleep with dreadful nightmares." Elladan hesitated, not knowing whether he should tell the tale now, but Elrohir picked it up.
"You, your parents, and a group of the Dúnedain were heading to Imladris. Your father was bringing you and your mother there to live in safety from the forces of evil. We had traveled out to meet and escort your group back to Imladris. On our way home, we were attacked by a large group of orcs. The battle was fierce, and many brave men fell. One orc had hidden in the shadows out of the way of the others and shot the arrow that felled your father. By the end of the battle, few beyond the two of us, you and Gilraen were left alive. All the men there had sought to keep the two of you safe. You had been pulled quickly out the way of the fighting and hidden away, though you saw far too much of the battle. Those few men who were left alive agreed to let us take you and your mother to Imladris in secret, allowing your enemies to believe that all three of you had been killed in that battle. They kept the secret of your continued existence from everyone." When Aragorn was silent for a long moment, Elrohir called his name hesitantly.
Aragorn looked up and met his eyes. "Thank you for telling me this. It has helped." A long pause preceded a deep sigh. "I only wish that I could have known him. If I could but turn back time…" He glanced up quickly at the twins. "You know I have no complaints about my childhood. I had as close to an ideal childhood as any boy could have had, with Naneth, Adar, and the two of you, but I cannot help but wonder what my life would have been like if Arathorn had lived. If I were being taken to live in Imladris at the age of two anyway, I still would have had you and Adar with me. I do not think things would have been so different between us. I just wish…" Another sigh escaped him, and the twins exchanged a concerned glance. They did not like to see Aragorn dwelling on things that could not be changed. Glancing back up at them, Aragorn gave a brief, wry smile as he relaxed back into his chair. "Enough of my regrets. If you had the power to change one thing in your lives, what would it be?"
"Naneth," the twins said simultaneously. That was the event that had nearly destroyed them so many centuries ago. When they were unable to save their mother from torment at the hands of those foul creatures, they had declared vengeance against all orcs and had made hunting orcs their lives. In some twisted way, they had felt that by bathing the land and their souls in the blood of orcs, they could relieve their guilt and pain. It was a strategy that had not worked. They had nearly lost themselves in their quest for the death of all the orcs who roamed Arda. The arrival of a two-year-old Aragorn had helped to pull them back from their pain. In him was a small innocent child who needed their love and protection. Their hearts melted each time he laughed or held his arms up to them, asking to be held or carried. He became their little brother in everything but blood, and they loved him dearly. Though they had known and befriended most of Aragorn's ancestors who had been raised in Imladris, none of those children had touched their hearts like little Estel. He had been not only the hope of men, but also the return of their own hope. But if they could go back in time and keep their naneth safe, away from the orcs, then she would never have sailed to Valinor, and they would never have come so close to the edge in the first place.
Aragorn nodded at their answer, asking no further questions. They had spoken enough of her and their feelings about the events surrounding her capture and sailing that he well knew their minds and feelings on this subject. Sensing that things had gotten much too serious, Aragorn changed the subject abruptly, reminding the twins of one of the pranks they had all played on Legolas during one of his visits. The three brothers talked and laughed many more hours, late into the night before, one by one, they fell asleep in their chairs.
As the three slept, a form emerged from the shadows. "So, you wish you could change the past, do you?" a soft whisper filled the room. "If given the opportunity, you may come to regret that wish. However, that is not my decision. Let us see what you would do with such a chance."
The figure knelt between the twins and raised a hand toward each of them. A soft glow emanated from the hands extended toward the elves and grew to envelop the two sleeping forms. The bodies of the sleeping elves vanished from where they lay. Once that was done, the form turned to Aragorn, and repeated his gesture. Again, the glow enveloped his sleeping form and he vanished from sight. The figure stepped back and faded away, leaving the room empty.
Elrohir looked wildly around, trying to find something familiar in the darkness. There was nothing to be seen. Blackness surrounded him, broken by nothing, not even his own elven glow. Where was he? The last thing he remembered, he had been in the sitting room with Elladan and Aragorn, and then he had fallen asleep. What was happening?
"Elladan? Aragorn? Is anyone there?"
"Elrohir?" a voice identical to his own answered.
"Elladan?" Elrohir called out. "Where are you? Where are we?"
"I know not where we are, but I'm right here."
"Right where?" Elrohir asked in frustration, sweeping his hands out blindly in front of him, searching for his brother.
"Ouch!" Elladan exclaimed when Elrohir's hand smacked into his face.
"Sorry," Elrohir said as he caught hold of Elladan's shoulder. "Aragorn?" he called out, hoping to track down his little brother as well. There was no response. Wherever they were, apparently Aragorn was not with them.
"What's going on?" Elrohir asked his older brother.
"I wish I knew," Elladan replied, unsettled by their current circumstances.
"You have been given a chance few are ever given." An unknown voice spoke out of the darkness.
"What chance?" Elladan asked, turning in a circle to try to locate the source of the voice. "What is this you speak of?"
"You have expressed a desire to change events of the past. You will be given the chance to do just that. The two of you are being sent back into the past. As elves, your bodies do not age, so you are being sent back to take the place of your younger selves from that time period. All of the memories and experiences you have had will be retained. All that you know now, you will remember. Be careful about what you change and who you tell, though. Even small changes in time can have great and powerful consequences. Whatever you change, you will have to live with the consequences. Remember that. Now go."
With that confusing statement, the twins suddenly found themselves falling endlessly into the darkness. Their conscious thoughts fled and they knew no more.
Aragorn found himself floating in an endless void of nothing but darkness.
"Elladan? Elrohir? Anyone?" he called out. His voice was quickly swallowed up in the suffocating darkness around him, and only silence answered him back.
He was unsure how long he remained that way before he heard an unfamiliar voice speak.
"You are being given a chance to revisit the past, and change what you see fit. Since you are a human, and the change you wish to affect happened when you were only a small child, it will not be possible to send your physical body back into the past to replace your younger self. Instead, your mind will be sent back to inhabit the body of another. This person will still be alive, but be suppressed by your mind."
"I refuse to do that to anyone!" Aragorn exclaimed at the thought of taking over another person's body.
"You have no choice in the matter. It would cause too much damage to time to have two versions of your physical body in the same place. And, I would assume that you would prefer not to be sent to inhabit your own body. It would be an abomination of nature to have the mind of a man in the body of a small child. This is the only viable choice. Keep in mind, though, that with each of your choices, you shape and create the world you live in. Every action has consequences, and you will have to live with those consequences."
"Where are my brothers?" Aragorn asked suddenly. They had been with him before he found himself in this void. He had to know if they were safe and back at the Citadel. If they woke up to discover him missing, they would turn Minas Tirith upside down to find him. Though he did not think that they would find him in such a search.
"They have been set upon a path of their own," the voice replied. "Though they have also been sent back into the past, do not expect to encounter the brothers you know now. You will each be sent back into a different version of the past. All choices up to your arrival will be the same as they were before. Events will only happen differently if you cause them to happen differently."
"But what if I do not want to do this?" Aragorn asked desperately. While he would love the chance to save his father, which was what he assumed was happening, he certainly did not want to take the place of another person.
"You have no choice," the voice repeated.
Suddenly, Aragorn felt himself falling, and the shock of the fall and what was happening stole all conscious thought from him.