Elrond swept through the halls of the palace, keeping himself to the shadows, and kept a careful eye on the people that passed by him.
Meeting Aragorn after all this time…well, it would be interesting.
He slipped by, keeping himself hidden for as long as he needed to be. He emerged in the front hall, still in the shadows, and then saw him. Aragorn. The man who was now King of Men. A man that Elrond himself had seen as a boy, running along the pathways of Rivendell.
He stood proudly, regally, and Elrond was glad to see him.
Wasting no more time, he stepped forward out of the darkness and strode over to him, and watched as Aragorn slowly realized who was standing in front of him.
"My Lord Elrond…? It cannot be…"
"And yet it is, Estel."
Those five words were enough to break the stillness between them, and Aragorn stepped forward and pulled him into a hug, which Elrond slowly returned, still taken aback after all these years by Aragorn's forward nature.
Slowly, Aragorn retreated from the embrace, and stood back at an arm's length, staring at the elven lord before him, still not quite believing what he was seeing.
"You are here…but why are you here? Why have you returned?"
Elrond was quiet for a long moment, and then motioned for Aragorn to follow him. The King did, and they moved to the side of the hall, out of range of prying ears and eyes.
Elrond spoke in low tones, explaining what was going on.
"The Lady Elidea is delayed at the moment, and wished me to come and tell you that she will be with you as soon as she is able." He paused as he saw Elros enter the room, but continued. "Some…secrets have come to light, and she wishes to be the one to tell you. I am merely a messenger. All will be revealed in time."
Aragorn was silent, and then their silence was broken by Elros approaching the two of them and placing a hand on the King's shoulder.
"King Aragorn…it has been years since I've seen you."
"Yes…last I saw you, you were a mere twenty-three. For forty years old, you look quite well, Lord Elros."
Elros ducked his head in embarrassment, but a small smile of contentment crossed the corner of his lips. He motioned for the two of them to follow him, and so they did, following him down the spacious halls to a private room.
Within a few moments, Elidea appeared through a door on the far wall, looking resplendent in dark blue, her brown hair artfully styled to beautifully frame her face. Elrond let his eyes linger on her for a brief moment, but not for too long as there were others in the room.
"My King…how may I help you today?"
He gave her a slight bow and then gently reached for her hand and bestowed a gentle kiss on it.
"Lady Elidea. It is good to see you again, though I wish it that I bore better news for you and your kin." She looked confused, so he quickly explained. "The lands that we have been trying to save…they have been burned to the ground by the enemy. I thought that I should be the one to deliver the news."
She went pale, and fearing for her, Elrond moved to her side and put a supporting arm around her shoulders, and she sank into him gratefully.
Aragorn noticed this, but said nothing, waiting for her response.
Finally, she leaned back onto her own feet and said, "That is grievous news, indeed, my King."
The two men and one elf waited for her to say something more, but she remained silent, her eyes dark and weary with the news that she had received. She'd had friends in those lands, and it was sad to realize that they were lost and gone.
She walked over to the king and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Thank you for coming to tell me of the news yourself." She paused, and then said. "I am most grateful for it."
She then turned her head towards her son.
"Elros, be prepared to tell the court what has happened…I need to spend some time with King Aragorn and Lord Elrond alone."
Elros nodded and then left the room, leaving behind him a slow building tension that filled the room, and he was silently glad to longer be a part of it. It made him uneasy, and even though he loved his mother and was worried about her after receiving the news, he would leave her to deal with it in her own manner.
As soon as her son was gone, she turned towards Elrond and walked over to him, pressing her head into his shoulder, needing his comfort, and Aragorn's eye was not pulled away from the sight.
He would wait and be patient.
Elrond had said that all would be explained in time, and he could wait.
After a few long moments, she pulled away and then turned back to Aragorn and said, "You deserve to know." He waited and she then continued. "Lord Elrond arrived only yesterday, and he arrived for one purpose…to see me."
He waited for the rest, but was surprised when Elrond spoke up instead of her.
"Aragorn…do not judge me for what I am about to say, but please understand that it must needs be said."
Aragorn nodded, and waited for Elrond to continue. He did.
"Lady Elidea was, and is, my love. She is also my heart…and, as I have only recently found out as of yesterday, the mother of my son, Elros."
Aragorn's eyes had slowly widened with each word that left Elrond's lips, but then at seeing the naked honesty in the elf lord's eyes as he stared after Elidea, he knew that he was telling the truth, and his heart reached out to him.
He knew what it was like to have a love that could not be acted on over many years…a love he still had not acted on.
He said nothing for a long time, and then said, "Congratulations. I could think of nothing greater than finding out that one is a father. I, too, have tasted of that joy…"
And with that statement, he was able to tell the elven lord that he had a grandson, while at the same time accepting what he had just been told. And he was also telling Elrond, in the very same words, that he did not judge him for loving a mortal and yet trying to deny Arwen's love of him.
Elrond nodded and said nothing more. Instead, he made his way over to Elidea and placed a loving hand on her shoulder.
Aragorn watched and turned to leave, but then stopped when he heard Elidea call out to him.
"King Aragorn, how long will you be staying?"
He partially turned and said, "A few days, no more."
A faint smile appeared on her lips.
"That is good; for just before I came in, I was given word that Legolas Greenleaf heads this way with news, and that he is due by tomorrow, late afternoon."
At hearing that, Aragorn suddenly froze entirely, shocked to learn that one of his companions, one that he had not seen many, many years, was going to be where he was. He kept his expression neutral, but Elrond had already seen the emotion that had crossed the old Ranger's face.
Yes, it had been as he had suspected for many years. That his love for Arwen had diminished, but his love for the elven king had continued to burn at a low flame for these many years.
He had seen it when Estel and Legolas had first met, when Estel was a mere fifteen year old boy.
And now, he had the chance to heal a rift that never should have happened, save it for Aragorn's stubbornness that led him to marry out of honor and respect of Arwen's devotion, and nothing else. He deserved more than that.
"That is good to hear, my lady," he finally said. "It will be a kindness to see him again."
And with that, he left the room, leaving Elrond and Elidea together, alone.
She gently reached up with one hand and pulled him down and placed a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth.
"I love you," she whispered and he smiled.
"And I you."
They were alone, and they were happy. She was no longer the only one who knew of the truth and it made her heart feel lighter than it had felt in years…ever since she had first fallen in love with the elven lord.
They said nothing more.