Title: Some Things Never Change
Author: Marethiel/ThinkingLady
Rating: PG
Characters: Aragorn, Elrond, Glorfindel, Imladris staff
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, drat it. Many thanks to Professor Tolkien for creating these wonderful souls to populate my imagination.

Notes: Aragorn is no more than thirty in this story.


The single candle on the bedside table flickered drunkenly as a mighty wind whipped viciously around the Last Homely House, rattling the balcony windows like an intruder desperate to force entrance. Elrond glanced at the rain pelting against the glass, and sighed. With such noise, he shouldn't be able to hear his foster son's rattling breathing so loudly. Estel was suffering, had been for many days and nights out in the dampness, as he'd struggled home from the Rangers' encampment. Fever gripped him, causing the man to swing back and forth between muscle-aching sweats and teeth-chattering chills. As Estel moaned, restlessly pushing down his blankets, Elrond patiently replaced them. "Hush, child," Elrond soothed as Estel whimpered softly, "Ada is here."

When Estel turned up at the kitchen door earlier that afternoon, weak and coughing, soaking wet and shaking with fever, Cook had scolded him soundly for walking all the way around instead of coming to the front door, even as he methodically supported the shaky human with one strong arm and shucked him of his wet garments with the other. In no time, his own tunic was slipped over the man's quaking shoulders, and he bellowed to the kitchen helper to "fetch the Master!"

The twins were away, visiting the Galadhrim, leaving Erestor and Glorfindel to help Elrond get the ill human settled into bed. Hoarsely, Estel had managed to let his father know he'd been ill for at least four suns, ashamed that he'd been confused and turned around in the forest due to his fever. Elrond shushed him then, coaxing a healing draught down his son's very sore throat. Estel had protested at first, grimacing and turning his head away. Elrond insisted, smiling, remembering a fussy, sick six-year-old who'd hated to take his medicine.

Now, as dawn broke over the trees, the storm eased. Elrond leaned back wearily, listening to Estel's improved breathing. He heard the door quietly open, but was yet startled to have a warm hand support his shoulder while being handed a cup of hot, strong tea. Elrond smiled his thanks up at his old friend.

"How does he fare?" asked Glorfindel softly, as he gently smoothed a lock of sweaty hair out of the man's face and sat beside him.

"He sleeps," replied Elrond, sipping his tea. "The fever has finally broken. When he wakes again, I could use your help with getting him freshened; he must feel as though he's still out in the rain."

Glorfindel chuckled softly, then both their eyes swung to the bed as Estel stirred. The tired, pinched face was a little more at peace as Estel's silver eyes opened. He swallowed and winced, but managed a small smile for Glorfindel, then looked down at his hand, clasped tenderly by his foster father. Sighing, he wearily looked up at Elrond.

"Ada… I think I'm sick," he croaked, his expression of guilty shame making his father and old friend laugh as Elrond kissed his forehead, nodding his head in agreement.