Disclaimer: Nothing herein belongs to me, except for the plot idea, and the ways in which the words are strung together to form words...and I might not even really even have any right to that. Please don't sue me for this, for I am simply a very poor, very busy high school student with absolutely no money or time.
Rating/Warnings: None. Absolutely nothing whatsoever. I honestly never thought I would hear myself say that...
Category: Family/Fluff/Romance (just a sprinkling/hinting of it...and no, it is not slash. I only ship Elrond/Celebrían)
Time frame: TA 2933 (Third Age), shortly after Aragorn was brought to Imladris and adopted by Elrond.
A/N: So, ever since writing Silent Strains, I simply haven't been able to get Elrond/Celebrían out of my head. I absolutely ADORE the two of them, especially when put together, and think that it's very sad that so little about their relationship has ever been written except for a) when Celebrían was attacked/shortly after she was attacked, or b) when they were reunited in Valinor. So, while technically I'm listing this as an Elrond/Aragorn story, it's really as much Elrond/Celebrían as anything else. To those reading Poisoned Star, I promise you that I'm working on it. I have about half of the next chapter written, and am praying that it will be up this weekend.
Huge thanks goes to Mirnava who unofficially beta'd. My official beta was away in France (lucky!), and is now trying to catch back up with life. Le hannon mellonie!
Of course, I'd absolutely LOVE feedback, even if it's just an anonymous "I liked it!" (or if you didn't like it...) Most importantly, however, I hope that you all enjoy!
~I Can Hear You~
The night was silent. No breeze blew through the treetops, tickling limb and leaf until they rustled in mirth; the nocturnal creatures lay quiet, content to simply listen to earth and sky for an hour of darkness. Even the stars were silent as they danced across the heavens.
There was no moon that night, no sliver of white hanging in the eternal void. Yet the earth was not completely dark. A single star shone brighter than the rest – shone so brightly that it gilded both leaves and blades of grass with silver. The star's light was somehow different than that of the moon – warmer, and somehow kinder, yet as fresh and clean as spring's first dewdrop.
It seemed as if the star's light was brightest around a small pool of crystal clear water that lay backed up against a wall of jumbled rocks. Tiny rivulets of water trickled down the stones and into the pool, tinkling and burbling happily as it splashed over the rocks. Thick grass grew right up to the edge of the lapping water, and tiny wildflowers peeped from between the stalks, their colors muted and bleached with silver. The trees towered close, but never so near that their branches overshadowed the water itself, as if they were sentinels that were guarding a hallowed place.
The surface of the pool appeared as if it had captured a little bit of the heavens. The water was dark, mirroring the black of the sky, with tiny pricks of light blazing up from the depths, and shadowed with the silver rays of the brilliantly shining star.
Someone sat by the water's edge, his gaze fastened on the shimmering surface of the pool. He was clad in a simple tunic and leggings, and was bare of foot. His long raven hair was unbound, and fell down his back and across his shoulders in waves, framing a down-turned face with shadow.
The elf finally spoke, breaking the stillness of the night. Strangely, neither the forest, nor the silence, seemed to mind. "I know that it has been long since I have been here, Celebrían. I just…" he trailed off, as if unsure of what to say. "I'm sorry," he finally murmured, and touched the water's surface with a fingertip, sending ripples eddying out into the center of the pool. "So much has happened these last few weeks. I do not even know where to begin, even with my own thoughts and emotions." A sigh escaped the elf, and then he fell silent for a long moment.
"Estel. Hope. What would you think of a boy named Hope, Celebrían? Would you laugh at me for naming him thus? Or would you take pity on him because of the burden that he will be forced to carry? But that is what he will be, I think. He will be the Hope of Men, and of the world. And yet," and here the elf paused, as if pondering, "I think, he may have already begun to fulfill his name.
"The twins are home," he announced, seemingly switching topics abruptly. "This time I believe that they will stay. I haven't seen them so happy and carefree since before…" he cut himself off, as if catching a slip of the tongue. "Well, happier than I have seen them in many long years," he amended. "I actually heard Elladan laugh last night. Estel was refusing to eat his carrots, and tried to sneak them onto Elrohir's plate. Elrohir, of course, noticed, but waited until Estel wasn't paying attention, and snuck them back onto his plate. Only, Elrohir managed to mix the carrots in with Estel's mashed potatoes. The look on Estel's face when he realized what happened was quite comical.
"They take Estel practically everywhere with them, if I allow it, and they will do almost anything to make him laugh or smile. It actually reminds me of how they were with Arwen when she was an elfling. They love him," he added simply. Another pause, and then, "And so do I. Never before has any that I have fostered so touched my heart, or the twins'.
"When I first took him in, I merely pitied him. He was terrified, still reeling from the death of his mother and father, and was nearly delirious with fever. He would not let go of Elladan, unless it was to reach for Elrohir. He had to be touching one of them at all times, or else he would begin to panic.
"But then…I do not know that I can explain it." He took a deep breath. "One night he simply climbed into my lap. When Elladan went to pick him up to bring him to bed, Estel grabbed onto my robes and wouldn't let go. There was something desperate in his eyes that night, a raw fear and pain. That was the first night he allowed me to carry him up to bed.
"Ever since that night, I have seen Estel differently than any of my previous fosterlings. I think maybe I see a little of myself in him. Or perhaps I see Elros, I know not. But that same pain and fear that I see in Estel's eyes I remember looking back at me many long years ago, when it seemed to us that the world was filled with naught but darkness and death."
For the first time since he had begun talking, the elf looked upward. His gaze seemed to be drawn to the brilliantly shining star high above, and for half a breath, it seemed as if the star pulsed and grew a little brighter. The elf's gaze faltered, and he looked away, his eyes settling on a tiny rivulet of water as it trickled down the far side of the pool.
"Yes, I see Estel differently, but that is good. He is special; I know that beyond a doubt. I believe that it goes deeper than his being the heir of Elendil, though. There is simply something about him in particular. Again, I'm finding it difficult to explain myself, but you would know what I mean if you met him. The best I can describe it is…It is as if he can heal your heart. He has done so for the twins. And…" he cuts off, as if unsure if he should continue. "I believe he might be doing the same for me," he says quietly. "There is still a hole in my life, in my heart, where you should be, yet it seems to pain me less since he has come to Imladris." His gaze returns to the surface of the pool.
"You would like him, I think, Celebrían. He is a downright bundle of energy, and you can oft find him running through the halls or the gardens, with Elladan or Elrohir running a few yards behind. Already I fear that they have begun to sway him to their own mischievous ways, and he has picked up their 'innocent' mask. I would say that it worries me, but I find it more amusing than anything else, really.
"Somehow he has captured everyone in Rivendell's hearts. While he's rambunctious, he also is a very sweet child, and it seems as if anyone who meets him wants to protect and mother him. Even Glorfindel and Erestor!" he laughed, and a faint hint of a smile danced upon his lips at the thought. "Arwen is still in Lothlórien, yet I know that Estel will capture her heart as well.
"I wish you were here to see it all, Celebrían. I wish you could meet him. He would love you, I am sure.
"And how am I supposed to raise another son without you by my side? Before this, you have always been there to guide me when I lost my way, and support me when I stumbled. But now…
"I miss you Celebrían; I miss you with all my soul. I love you."
Silence crept back into the glade, broken only by the continuous trickling of the water. The elf remained sitting for another long moment, his head thrown back and his gaze fixated on the star gleaming high above him.
Finally, the elf rose slowly to his feet. He turned away from the pool and began to make his way across the grass toward the barrier of towering trees. He made hardly a sound as he passed, and the grass sprang straight as soon as he stepped away, unbruised and unbroken.
As he reached the edge of the clearing, a sudden breeze sprang up, rustling the tree tops, and carrying with it the cool, sweet scent of clear water and new growth. For a heartbeat, as the air swirled around the tall elf, tussling his hair and teasing it away from his face, it seemed to him that winds carried an echo of a far distant laugh.
For the first time that night, the elf truly smiled. It completely transformed him. It seemed as if many years had fallen away from him, revealing a young, strong man barely into his prime; as if he had shed a heavy burden that weighed on his shoulders and heart. His eyes caught the starlight, and they seemed to change from a stormy gray to pure, liquid silver, almost as if a stray moonbeam had been captured in his gaze. The subtle luminosity that had hung about him grew in radiance, until it was a warm, steady glow.
Had any seen it, they would have claimed that a prince out of legend had stepped through the veils of time. But there were none to bear witness; none but the trees, and the stars, and that was enough.
With that, the elf turned and disappeared into the shadows beneath the trees. His step was light and assured, his feet carrying him down the invisible path that they knew so well.
With his passing, it was as if the forest raised its head, and silenced its reverent hush. In the depths of the trees, the crickets struck up a merry tune, chirruping a symphony fit for a king. Cicadas hummed, and moths fluttered through the treetops, dreaming of the day they would fly to join the stars. In the far distance, an owl hooted forlornly, and a fox yipped in reply.
Yet in the glade beside the pool, nothing moved but the grass as a breeze murmured across the land; no insect crooned, no predator hunted. Only the trees whispered as they continued their eternal guard of the hallowed ground.