TITLE: Sticks and Stones (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marethiel/ThinkingLady
CHARACTERS: Aragorn ("Little Estel"), Elrond, Glorfindel
SUMMARY: When a foolish dare results in Estel being injured, he learns that Glorfindel and his Ada are smarter sometimes than even he realizes.
NOTE 1: Aragorn/Estel is about nine years old in this story
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em, drat it. Many thanks to Professor Tolkien for creating these wonderful souls to populate my imagination.


The reddish haired elf walking through the Halls of Healing, arms laden with freshly laundered bandages and wrappings to be stored for need, winced in compassion at the sounds he heard while walking by the rooms designated for the family's healing needs. It was here that Lord Elrond tended members of the household; and today, his youngest son was seated on an examination bed, gently but firmly held steady by Lord Glorfindel.

The child gasped in pain as the dark-haired elf before him gently examined his arm.

"Breathe deep, Estel," directed Lord Elrond, calmly, as he gently but firmly probed the site of the little one's injury. As his light touch found the sharp edges of the broken left ulna, the child flinched, the pain sharp as turpentine. The little boy yelped and flinched, and but for the strong, steadfast grasp of the blond Vanya elf, would have wrenched away from the painful examination.

Elrond sighed and leaned back, resting his hands on his knees. "I am grieved to have had to cause you pain, ion nin" he soothed, glancing meaningfully at Glorfindel. "There are a number of bumps and bruises and small scrapes and cuts, as you well know. But it is the arm that is injured most seriously. The small, thin bone on the underside of your arm is broken; it must be set in order to heal properly." As he saw fear enter his youngest child's face, he reached out gently and cupped his son's cheek. "Glorfindel will help us, and it will be over quickly, I promise, penneth."

Estel swallowed hard, stoutly fighting back his tears. "I won't move, Ada, I promise," the child whispered, his face white, his mouth set. He knew his injury was his own fault. I won't be a baby! I'm too big to cry...

Sadly, Elrond smiled at the brave little face and smoothed back the dark, unruly hair, tumbled out of their braids as a result of the child's hard play and even harder fall.

"Your brother is preparing a healing draught that will ease your pain some, Estel," he reassured the child, careful, however, not to lie to him: setting the broken forearm *would* hurt… badly. "Tell me, child…you have been forbidden, many times, to go near that area of the waterfall, as the stones are not stable. You know this; why did you disobey?"

Mournfully, the child hung his head. He shrugged, miserable, and winced as the movement hurt his injured arm.

Glorfindel eased the child into a more comfortable position, resting the little boy's back against his chest, and Estel sighed in relief, gratefully accepting the support. It almost felt as though he could sense Glorfindel's energy soothing him in waves of comfort as his father's old friend gently massaged his tight shoulder muscles, stiff and tense from holding his arm still for so long against the pain of the injury.

"I noticed an elfling attempting to dodge us in the woods, penneth," Glorfindel said quietly. "I believe it was Aearan, son of Bararod. I was more concerned with finding you, than detaining him. Does my memory serve?"

Estel held his breath a moment, and then closed his eyes, wincing in more than physical pain this time.

But his father would have none of it. Elrond reached forward and his finger gently tipped up the little one's chin. "Glorfindel asked you a question, child."

As Elrond gave a firm tap to his chin, Estel's eyes came open and he looked up at his foster father, eyes guilty and sorrowful. "Yes, Ada," he murmured. "It was Aearan."

Glorfindel raised an eyebrow at Elrond. This particular elfling was difficult, at best, nasty and vengeful at worst. He was larger than most elflings, but less graceful, less facile, and filled with anger and spite.

"Did he harm you, Estel?" asked Elrond, sternly.

"No, Ada!" protested Estel, silver eyes flying open. His father saw the honesty in those eyes, alongside the discomfort. "He did not push me, I swear." The child's mouth then clamped shut, as though fearing he'd say something he'd regret.

Elrond considered his youngest for a moment, making Estel squirm uncomfortably under his gaze, then rose to his feet. "I shall see what is keeping Elrohir with your medicine," he said calmly. But as he passed his old friend, he gave Glorfindel a knowing look.

After a few moments passed, Glorfindel settled the child comfortably in his lap. "I am sorry you're in pain, penneth. Such accidents are unfortunate. However, this accident should have been avoided, had you stayed away from the edges of that bluff. Surely, you understand now why your father has forbidden you near that area?"

Estel sighed and nodded, trying to swallow against the lump in his throat. "Am I to be punished?" he whispered, miserably.

Glorfindel shrugged. "For having the poor sense to accept a dare from someone like Aearan? I doubt it," the ancient Vanya answered easily, reeling in his catch.

Estel sighed in relief and relaxed. Then he started, eyes flying open as he realized he'd been caught. His breath hitching, he glanced up, worriedly, and relaxed a bit as he saw the kind face above him. "How?" he asked simply, in awe. Could Glorfy truly read a little boy's mind, like Erestor said?!

Glorfindel chuckled and cradled the child gently. "One, because I have had several hundred years' practice with your older brothers and their attempts to keep things from their elders. And two, because I know you are usually an obedient child, except when someone calls your bravery or ability into question. Aearan is known to do this kind of thing with younger, smaller beings. You are certainly not the first," Glorfindel said dryly. "Made fun of you being Secondborn, did he?" Estel nodded, biting his lip in shame.

"Oh, Estel." Glorfindel kissed the top of his sweaty head, comforting him. "You are less than no one, child, understood? Certainly not less than a cowardly elfling such as Aearan Bararodion. Believe in yourself without giving in to childish taunts, little one."

Estel sighed, caught out and feeling more foolish and miserable than ever. But he had to admit that he felt safe and comforted in his dear friend Glorfindel's strong arms. Just as he felt as though he really might get comfortable, the throb in his arm grew fiercer, more sharp. "It hurts dreadfully, Glorfy," the child whispered, biting his lip to keep it from trembling and trying not to sniffle, but unable to stop from grimacing at the deep ache.

"Aye," nodded Glorfindel, supporting the child's arm. "Let it serve to remind you of how painful it feels to accept a foolish dare, eh?"

Estel sighed and nodded, leaning into his dear friend's big, safe arms, and allowed one fat tear to slip down his cheek. He would remember this lesson for a long, long time.

- The End