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Dragon
by Aranel Laerien
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It was just another evening in the Hall of Fire, but for a particular young boy, it was far from it.

Estel was gazing at the wizard in awe as smoke puffed out from his mouth when he spoke.

Like a dragon, the boy thought in amazement.

Mithrandir was still barely halfway through one of his entertaining tales of hobbits. Much as Estel loved to hear of other lands and peoples, perhaps when the wizard was done… Estel waited impatiently, fidgeting amidst the cushions – and earning a pointed look from Elrond.

Sorry, ada, he thought and lowered his head, absently twining a stray strand of the carpet around a small finger.

"Are you bored so soon?" Elrohir whispered from beside him.

Estel shook his head, still staring mesmerised at those grey breaths of smoke.

"Our little brother is thinking," Elladan teased and ruffled the boy's hair.

Estel only gave a disgruntled pout.

Mithrandir turned towards them mid-sentence, and smiled. Estel only responded with a guilty look, sighing with relief when Mithrandir finished his story without missing a beat.

"… so they have been selling pipeweed ever since, and this, this Dragon blend," he pointed to his pipe and winked, "is one of their very finest."

Estel clapped enthusiastically even as the elves laughed and cheered, and with Mithrandir evidently not about to tell another tale, Lindir was soon made to sing his newly written sonnet.

Estel noticed his father and Mithrandir engaged in light conversation. Meanwhile, the twins had joined a few of the younger elves in critiquing Lindir's work.

"The fourth line doesn't quite flow from the third," Elrohir was insisting.

"It was rather rushed – you were the one who wanted to hear it before it was completed," Lindir protested.

"So we would be in time to offer good suggestions!" Elrohir finished triumphantly.

Estel would have loved to join the bickering, but he had more pressing matters to attend to. Mithrandir was now offering his father a closer look at the pipeweed. Estel bit his lip and staggered hesitantly over.

The two looked up in unison as he approached. Estel backed involuntarily, then looked towards his father.

"Estel," Elrond smiled, "is there anything you would like?"

This was it, Estel thought and drew a deep breath.

He turned to Mithrandir and asked, "May I try some of the pipeweed?"

Mithrandir gave him a surprised look.

Elrond laughed lightly and chided, "Mithrandir, mellon nîn, what habits are you trying to indoctrinate my son with!"

The wizard shot him a thinly veiled glare. "Here, my boy," he addressed Estel and offered him a newly-lit pipe, "try this."

Estel's fingers shook slightly as he handled the pipe respectfully. He sniffed it a little before bringing it into his mouth. It did not smell too bad, and Mithrandir's earlier description of it being a sweet herb encouraged him.

He looked at his father, not quite sure of what to do. Elrond only motioned for him to carry on with whatever he intended. He blew tentatively through the pipe, feeling rather pleased when he saw a tiny wisp float upwards. Then, his lungs running out of air, he sucked in a deep breath. And froze.

Mithrandir was looking at him curiously.

"Thank you," his voice came out in some strange gargle, "you have been very kind. May I be excused?"

Elrond nodded, his lips quirked in a smile.

Estel bowed and walked away as primly as he could. It seemed to take him forever to reach the doors.

Once finally out, he hacked away. His throat burned from within him and his eyes were tearing, but still, he was filled with a glowing sense of satisfaction. There were little puffs of smoke floating out whenever he coughed.

Before long, his twin brothers were at his side.

"Estel, are you alright?" Elladan crouched over him worriedly.

"I want to be a dragon too."

"Oh, Estel, you silly boy…" It did occur to him later on that he could have made some reference to Estel attaining the strength of a dragon, but at that point, Elladan truly did not know what else to say.

--

Gimli told Legolas he would never forget the day he saw Merry and Pippin safe and sound, happily smoking pipeweed amidst the spoils in Isengard. Neither would Aragorn.

The trio had joined the hobbits who were then speaking of the various blends of pipeweed. Needless to say, the topic soon touched on the famed Dragon blend.

"The first time I tried it, I coughed my throat out," Pippin declared.

Merry rolled his eyes. "It's notoriously smoky and strong. Only a fool like you would try it when you were five years old."

Legolas turned to Aragorn with a knowing smile. "Reminds you of something?" the elf said smoothly.

Aragorn frowned. He certainly did not recall having told Legolas of that particular incident…