In the midst of sweet oblivion the sound of the softest whimpering entered the awareness of the sleeping Elf Lord's mind. His well-honed healer's senses responded immediately. The gentle peace of dreaming gave way to the acute awareness of wakefulness as his grey eyes focused on the room around him. His hand automatically pushed aside his covers and he sat up on the side of his bed.
Slipping into his slippers and dressing gown in one fluid motion, Elrond reached for the door to the adjacent room. The sound of a small body thrashing underneath his blankets came through the carved wood of the door, followed by a barely audible moan of fear.
He entered and knelt at his son's bedside, his keen eyes taking in the sweaty brow and the strands of dark hair plastered to the little face so contorted in desperation.
"Sîdh, Estel," the Elf Lord crooned, placing a soothing hand on the youngster's cheek. "Peace, my little one. I am with you."
His thumb caressed the creases in Estel's brow as he softly hummed a tune to his sleeping son. The fingers of his left hand gently combed through the long, tousled hair, careful not to wake the child, and pouring all his love and comfort into the reassuring touch.
Compassion filled Elrond's heart as the sleeping toddler turned towards his Ada's presence, seeking solace. The 5-year-old rolled onto his side and nestled his face against his Ada's warm hand, his own little hands reaching up to hold the slender fingers close to his cheek.
Elrond smiled as he watched the strained features of the future King of Men soften and relax. A sigh escaped from the little chest and a chubby thumb disappeared into the tot's mouth.
"Losto vae, Estel Elrondion," the Elf Lord whispered.
Hours passed in which the Lord of Imladris made himself comfortable on the side of the bed, neither wanting to move his hand away from his son's grasp, nor - to tell the truth - very willing to pass up this moment of observing every detail of his child's face, committing them to memory.
The greyish light of dawn slowly turned into a reddish pink hue, followed by a warm golden glow. Hushed voices drifting in from the training grounds and soft clanging noises in the kitchen told Elrond that the Elves of Rivendell were beginning their day.
Birds outside the window sang joyfully of the pristine, new morning that lay waiting for all those in the Valley of Peace. Several floors below curtains were shoved aside as Erestor prepared the Last Homely House for the awakening of the Peredhil Family.
A long, wide yawn issued from the little mouth beside Elrond's hand. The dark eyelashes resting on the soft, chubby cheeks fluttered briefly and the tousled head began to move. Suddenly the child became aware of the warm hand still offering comfort, and a pair of bright, grey eyes opened wide.
A wide, blissful smile appeared on the sleepy face and he beamed up into his father's eyes.
"Good morning, my son," Elrond smiled.
The child tightened his grip on the long, elvish fingers and pulled them close to his chest, snuggling into his pillow and popping his thumb back into his mouth. The father of four bent down and kissed his youngest's forehead and cheek, causing the child to giggle when the long strands of elvish hair tickled him.
Smiling, Elrond lifted the curls on the back of Estel's head and kissed the exposed neck, blowing a soft raspberry on the smooth skin. Amidst giggles from Estel, the enamored Elf-Lord gently lifted his son's chin and blew another raspberry on the soft throat. Shaking with laughter, the child placed a small hand with a wet little thumb on his Ada's mouth.
"That tickles!" Estel laughed.
Elrond chuckled and blew another raspberry on the palm of his 5-year-old's hand, beaming as his son's squeals of delight filled the room.
"Come, ion nín," Elrond said, finally sitting back up. "It is time to greet the day. Shall we open the curtains together?"
Estel nodded and pushed aside his blankets, flinging himself into his Ada's waiting arms. As the Elf Lord carried him towards the high windows, a long yawn escaped from the young one's mouth. One small hand reached out for the curtains while he rubbed his eyes on the back of the other.
No sooner had the child and the Elf allowed the sun's light into the room, though, than the little one's legs began to kick with excitement.
"Can I go and wake Ro and Elladan, Ada?"
"Yes, you may," Elrond smiled.
He lowered his little bundle of energy to the ground, where Estel immediately made a beeline for the door. He heard the little feet running across the hallway, halting briefly to open his older brother's room. An enthusiastic sprint, followed by a loud "Umph!" from his oldest, told Elrond that Estel had pounced onto Elladan's bed.
"Good morning, Estel!" a happy voice sounded. "Have you woken Elrohir yet?"
Elrond smiled as the room across the hall grew silent. Soft giggles told him that Elladan had put his finger on his lips and that the brothers were now creeping towards Elrohir's room.
The ancient Elf looked out of the window into the bright, sunny morning, his heart overflowing with love for his sons...though secretly enjoying what he knew to be the last moment of tranquility of this new day...
sîdh – peace
losto vae – sleep well
ion nín – my son