Agorn, Ladan and Hir
The door opened with a bang and the excited Heir of Isildur stormed into the small, thatched house, looking for his wife.
Spotting his beloved in the corner by the woodstove, he crossed the room with a few large strides and grabbed her in a loving embrace, wildly spinning her around, eliciting giggles from the child on her arm.
"What makes you so happy, meleth-nín?" she asked with a smile.
"My beloved friends have returned to us!" he replied. "Thank the Valar! Throughout these two long years of their absence I have been aching to see them again. Now they are finally here!"
The grey-eyed ranger held out his hands to his son. "Come Aragorn, I'd like you to meet two very special people!"
The tot energetically launched himself in his father's waiting arms. Infected by his father's enthusiasm, he happily bounced his swaddled behind up and down as he was carried outside.
There, in the crisp autumn air, illuminated by the light of the sun, stood two tall, dark-haired strangers. The toddler instantly forgot to bounce as he gaped at the bright colours of their tunics and cloaks, which were different from the dull browns and greens he was used to. He sat back down on his father's strong arm, resting his head against the safe, broad chest, and his thumb wandered into his mouth as he silently studied these two new appearances in his life.
"These, my son," spoke Arathorn, "are my kin. Your kin."
One of the strangers came forward, taking care to go slowly so the child would not be frightened, and smiled fondly at the infant.
"Hello Aragorn," he said gently. "I am Elladan."
The usually shy toddler gazed up in the beautiful face, totally mesmerized by the gentle, grey eyes. He extended a chubby hand and reached for the long, raven hair, letting out a surprised 'Oh' as the silky tresses gently carressed his skin. It was an entirely new experience for the child to feel something quite this soft! He placed his curious little finger on the fair elven cheek and tapped and poked carefully, slowly tracing a line down to the widely grinning mouth.
He giggled when the stranger kissed his head. The raven hair tickled!
Now the second stranger approached.
"Hello Aragorn, I am Elrohir," the new one smiled. "A star shines on the hour of our meeting, tithen pen."
Aragorn gazed at him, furrowing his brow. He glanced over at Elladan, then back to the one before him.
"Our father sends his blessings to you and your House," spoke the stranger.
"Hannon le," replied Arathorn. "May a star shine on your Realm and your Family, also."
He turned to his son.
"Now Aragorn, have you paid attention? Who is this?" He pointed at the oldest of the twins.
Aragorn giggled shyly. "Ladan," he whispered, hiding his face.
"Indeed!" Arathorn laughed, beaming proudly. "Very good, my son. This is Elladan."
Gazing at the smiling faces around him, Aragorn knew he had done something good. His father now pointed at the second one.
"Who is this?" the Chief of the Dunedain asked.
"Ladan," the little one replied, a little more confident.
Gilraen giggled in the doorway and Elrohir grinned.
"No, Aragorn," Arathorn smiled at his son, "this is Elladan." He pointed at the first of the two strangers, who bowed slowly and touched his heart. Turning back to the second one, Arathorn asked: "Now who is this?"
Aragorn glanced from one Elf to the other. A look of deepest concentration appeared on his face. The one with the sword was Ladan. Then the one with the bow was…
"Ladan," he concluded brightly.
The Elves and the Humans laughed heartily.
"No, Aragorn. I am Elrohir," the younger twin chuckled.
Aragorn vehemently shook his head and his frown deepened considerably.
"Ladan!" he stated firmly, kicking his feet for emphasis. He shyly hid his face in his father's neck, but then his confidence won over and he peeked over the ranger's broad shoulder.
"Ladan, Ladan," the tyke stressed stubbornly, pointing a little finger first at Elladan, and then at Elrohir.
"El – ro – hir," Arathorn enunciated, kissing his son's chubby cheek.
The little feet kicked more violently in response and the child twisted his entire upper torso to add more emphasis to the shaking of his head, sending his long hair flying.
"No! Ladan!" he insisted loudly, prying at the large arm holding him and squirming to be set free.
"El – ro…" Arathorn tried again, but Aragorn now screamed in frustration, the chubby cheeks turning red with the toddler's explosive anger. The little fists balled and hammered on Arathorn's chest and big tears formed rapidly in the bright, accusing eyes. Why did they fool him? He could see that Ladan looked just the same as Ladan!
Glaring at the smiling faces, he stretched out his hands towards his mother and cried.
From his safe shelter in the shadow behind his mother's chair, little Aragorn watched as his father and mother exchanged happy tales with the two strangers, enjoying several cups of warm mead as the afternoon wore on.
Ladan smiled at him from time to time, sending the toddler winks and one time even briefly crossing his eyes, making him laugh. But the other Ladan had carefully ignored him so far.
Making up his mind, little Aragorn began a circling movement through the room, passing first behind his father's old rocker and then quietly crawling on until he reached the far corner between the wall and Ladan's chair.
Peeking around the edge of the chair to make sure his parents were still seated where they had been before, Aragorn secretly glanced at the blue velvet sleeve of the Elf. A sudden wave of shyness hit him and he quickly withdrew behind the chair. But curiosity soon got the better of the youngest descendant of Elros. Glancing up at the raven tresses above him, Aragorn pulled himself up to his feet and carefully moved his fingers through the smooth, silky hair.
A sudden lull in the conversation made him pull back his hand, but then the cheerful voices of the Elves filled the room once more and Aragorn could hear his father and mother chuckling. Encouraged by the familiar sounds, he ventured onwards and peeked around the back of the chair, reaching out to touch the soft, velvet sleeve on the armrest.
Elrohir smiled when, after several long minutes of fumbling and groping, the back of a little, tousled head passed by the side of his chair. Two little hands carefully began to examine his boots – oblivious to the watching eyes of the four adults.
"Horse!" came a surprised squeal from the little tyke. For indeed, Elrohir's boots had been worked by elven craftsmen and there were images of horses laid into the leather's surface. A small nose was pressed firmly against the side of his left calve and then little fingers patted the boot, right where the flanks of the horse were.
"Good horse!" praised the child.
A small hand ventured upwards to touch the sturdy, cotton fabric above the leather boots.
"Soff, nah-ah," concluded the child, slightly disappointed that there wasn't more soft fabric on the Elf. Taking a firm hold of the elven legs he pulled himself up and curiously peered over the cotton-clad knees. There he was…the second Ladan.
"Hello Aragorn," smiled Elrohir. "Would you like to go for a horse ride on my lap?"
A few minutes earlier Arathorn had conveyed this highly valuable piece of information to the Elf, for his little progeny loved exuberant 'horse' rides.
"Agorn ride?" The toddler tilted his head, questioning.
Elrohir carefully bounced his knees up and down, shaking the tot who was still holding on, making clear what he meant.
Aragorn's face lit up in the brightest of smiles. "Yehh, Agorn ride!" he nodded vigorously, stretching out his arms to be lifted onto Elrohir's lap.
The child's delighted squeals filled the room as Elrohir began to sing several Elven and human 'horsey-ride' songs, bouncing the child on his knees. Aragorn rode over the highest mountains – for which Elrohir tossed the giggling toddler in the air – and passed over roads in terrible condition – for which Elrohir occasionally dropped Aragorn into 'potholes' between his legs.
Arathorn and Gilraen beamed at the sight of their frolicking son.
"Again!" giggled Aragorn.
And, oh joy! There he went again, on the paths over the mountains, riding a little white horse that occasionally…
"…stopped," sang Elrohir, 'dropping' the child to the ground, "…to eat some grass."
"More gass!" Aragorn demanded, scrambling back up onto Elrohir's lap.
Elrohir smiled at the child and ran his fingers through the curly hair.
"More?" he asked in feigned surprise, tucking the unruly strands behind the pink, little ears.
Aragorn giggled and threw himself forward into Elrohir's embrace, nestling his cheek against the soft, velvety chest.
"How do you do it?" chuckled Elladan, laughing fondly when his brother kissed the child's baby-soft hair.
Aragorn sat back up and a thoughtful frown appeared on his little face as he studied his 'horse' with interest.
"Ladan… nah-ah?" he asked, tilting his head.
"No," Elrohir confirmed. "There is Elladan."
Aragorn shyly looked at the older twin across the room.
"I am Elrohir," smiled Lord Elrond's youngest son. "El-ro-hir. Can you say that?"
Aragorn giggled. "Hir!" he pointed, tapping his finger on Elrohir's brow.
"Yes! Very good!" laughed the Elf, kissing the child on the cheek and hugging him close.
Delighted that he had pleased the Elf, Aragorn turned to look at Arathorn and Gilraen, curious if his parents would like it, too.
"Ladan!" he pointed at Elladan.
"Indeed, that is Elladan, my son! How very good of you!" Arathorn praised.
"Hir!" pointed Aragorn, now poking his little finger in Elrohir's cheek.
"That's right, Aragorn! I am so proud of you!" laughed Gilraen.
"Ladan!" began Aragorn again, waving his hand at Elladan. The effect that this small effort was having on his parents was amazing!
"Hir!" he cried exuberantly, repeatedly patting Elrohir's shoulder and bouncing up and down as he was once again praised for his new achievement.
And so it was that the conversation of the Captain of the Dúnedain and his wife with the two sons of Elrond was repeatedly interrupted by the squeals of a 20-month-old toddler, who was wobbling back and forth from one Elf to the other, constantly crying: "Ladan, sing! Hir, more gass! Agorn horse! Look, Ladan! Agorn ride!"
March 24, TA 3019
At nightfall of the fifth day of the march from Morgul Vale, the army of the West made its last camp. None of the warriors slept, for the howling of wolves was about them and many unseen things prowled beyond the circles of light that surrounded their fires. Fumes and smokes shrouded the moon, leaving the lands in utter and desperate darkness.
Aragorn stirred on his bed roll and opened his eyes. It had been a long time indeed since he had last heard that name. He had been twenty when his brothers had reminded him of his early moniker, scant days after his father Elrond had told him of his true identity. The twins had ridden out with him to the borders of Imladris, longing to journey with him as he had left the protected Valley. Both had been torn by grief to see him ride away, yet in the end they had understood that they must let their brother go. Leaving his brothers behind had been one of the hardest things Aragorn had ever done.
That first night alone in the wild he had cried over the loss of his family and home, knowing that he must now become what his fate and heritage had decreed him to be: a ranger of the North. But before the night had grown old, the memory of the innocent nickname, which had brought such expressions of delight on the faces of his brothers, had soothed him through his pain and his tears. Although he no longer slept in the knowledge that his father slept a few doors away, and that Glorfindel and Erestor were holding vigil by the fire in the kitchen, he felt safely wrapped in the warm sound of the childhood name.
"Hir…is that you?" the heir of Isildur whispered, smiling.
"It is…be hush, little brother. Ladan and I have come to watch over your sleep this night."
Aragorn shifted as a light weight settled on the foot of his bedroll, while another carefully sat down by his head, running gentle, soothing fingers through the long, tousled tresses.
"No horse rides for you tonight, little one," Elrohir chuckled. "But you may ask us for a night time song."
"Oh yes, please!" Aragorn begged, snuggling under his warm blanket and for the moment forgetting all the responsibilities that so heavily pressed on his shoulders.
As the harmonious elven voices filled the night, not only Aragorn, son of Arathorn was lulled into a peaceful slumber. The warriors in the surrounding tents felt the dreariness of the plains of Dagorlad seep away and a deep serenity surrounded them as though they were lying under the trees of Ithilien.
Tomorrow they would reach the Black Gates of Mordor, the final stage of a suicide mission to draw the forces of Sauron out of the Lands of Ash and Smoke, opening a way for two small hobbits on their way to Mount Doom. Tomorrow they would risk their lives and all that they held dear, willingly walking to an almost certain death, in the hope of enabling Frodo and Sam to complete their desperate task.
But tonight belonged to the three brothers alone, and no-one would take this time away from them.
As Eärendil sailed low over the fumes of Mordor, unable to penetrate the poisonous clouds rising from the pits of the desolate lands, the Valar smiled down on the children of Beren and Lúthien. For indeed, even if the morn would bring an end to their days under the sun, the Valar would forever sing the song of Agorn, Ladan and Hir.
meleth nín – my love
tithen pen – little one
hannon le – I thank you
Author's Note: The second paragraph of the last section may be considered AU, for according to the appendices of LOTR, Aragorn did not leave Imladris until a while after Elrond told him of his true heritage. This may have been between a week (which seems unlikely) to 6 months later. For Aragorn is twenty when he is told of his heritage, and not until later, "one day, before the fall of the year," Elrond called Aragorn to his chamber to speak with him about his foster son's love for Arwen. The next day Aragorn "said farewell to his mother, and to the house of Elrond, and to Arwen, and he went out into the wild."
(Quotes: J.R.R. Tolkien, Appendices, Appendix A, part V, The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen)
The above mentioned 6 month period follows from the time between Aragorn's birthday, March 1, until 'before the fall of the year', which I shall assume to be early September. The minimum of a week follows from the number of days mentioned in Appendix A that pass between the revelation of Aragorn's identity, his first encounter with Arwen, his conversation with his mother, and his final conversation with Elrond before he leaves.