Author: Calenlass Greenleaf
Disclaimer: The canon and characters belong to Tolkien. I merely borrow.
Warnings: Blood, violence…what you see in LOTR.
Characters/Pairings: Aragorn and mentions of others. No pairings except canon ones. The answer remains the same: pigs will sprout wings and fly the day I write slash.
Summary: Hands…You can use them for good things, or evil things. They can hurt or heal. They can be hate, or love. What do you want to use them for?
A/N: I'm not "returning" to the fandom, per se, but nostalgia was finally strong enough that it produced something that resembles a story. I haven't written fanfics for maybe two years now…I'm not sure if I can still do it. Not to mention this is unbetaed. However, if you enjoy it, that's all I wanted to hear :)
'That is far too high for you to reach. Here.' Someone lifts him up and he scrabbles for the book, nearly dropping it. He hardly notices as they set him down, his hands already flipping. In his haste though, a page slips too fast and does more than tickle his skin. He yelps, and holds his finger up. Blood wells already, a dark red that reminds him of the curtains that hang in one of the rooms. It drips, and nearly falls on white pages, but someone catches it and it pools in the palm.
He looks up, ashamed for nearly ruining a book, but Erestor only brushes asides words he has yet to speak. 'Never mind the book. Is the cut deep?' The book leaves his good hand while his finger is examined.
'No?' He tips his head.
'Does it hurt?'
'Only a little.' He's hurt himself worse before. His eyes are solemn as he watches the elf pull out a handkerchief and wrap it around his finger.
'Keep it pressed and find your father for an ointment.'
'But my book-'
'Will be waiting for you in your room.'
He closes his hand over the fabric and looks longingly at the book. 'Why is paper sharp?'
'Because books are meant to be slowly read, not hastily flipped,' Erestor replies. 'To warn little boys the same thing in life.'
His teacher does something curious. He crouches down and sets the book on his knees, before enveloping those small hands in his own. 'Our hands, given to us by Eru, are used for everything. However, they are easily damaged by little things-' Fingers trace his, '-and they can damage. Some do small hurts, others great pains.'
That pulls a frown on his face. 'Gen av-chenion.'
'Think of it like this. Paper is soft and smooth, but when you turn it on its side, it becomes like a blade. Hands are such. You can use them for good things, or for evil things. They can hurt or heal. They can be hate, or love. What do you want to use them for?'
'Good,' he responds quickly.
'Mind you, mischief does not fit in that category.' Before he can protest, Erestor gently turns him around. 'Go. We can talk more later.'
He nods and is on his way, careful to keep pressure on his cut. Evil hands? What would evil hands even be doing? It must be one of those things he would eventually understand, like everyone around him says.
If neither were blood, they would be colours that went together. He has clothing of those colours. But never were they this bright. Nor did they smell of copper and acid.
Black gleams on his hands, shiny. He looks at the trails they made down his knuckles and wrist, how they stained his sleeves.
'Estel. Estel-' Someone is holding his shoulders. 'Nin heniach?' Sindarin washes over him, smoothing after the clipped Westron and guttural Orkish tongue he has been hearing.
He looks up at his brother and sees two. No, that was both of his brothers. More red and black.
Then screaming. A high-pitched, desperate shriek. Only when he is pressed against a shoulder and half-smothered does he realise that was his own voice.
'Dangrant di, dangrant di--' he gasps out, sounding choked and weak to his own ears. 'Agorech am man theled?'
He pushes himself up to breathe, and can still see his hands. Before he can hate the sight of them, Elrohir grips them tightly, obscuring them from view.
'Because we have to,' the elf replies, eyes still burning. Is this truly his brother? This elf, with bloodstains and torn clothing, yet with a gleam in his eyes that burns of excitement…he does not recognise. 'Because they are evil.'
'You killed.' He tries to fight, pull away.
'They would have slain countless more. Innocent lives. Even you.' Those hands that he remembered tossing him up in the air, chasing him, tucking him in-they now clenched his so tightly it hurt.
'They took your father, Estel.' Elladan's voice. 'They took others away too.' Arms hold him tighter despite his struggling.
'But-' he falls silent, as he stares straight at a dismember Orc laying nearby. The face, twisted permanently in hate and death.
My real father. Whom my mother never speaks of. An arrow through the eye. Instant death.
'Is there no other way?' Whatever the reasons, he had ended lives. 'Why is evil allowed?'
Elladan humorlessly laughs. 'From the time of the Rape of Silmarils, the same question persists. We have no answer yet.'
'I want peace.' The tears arrive, burning his face. 'I want this to stop.' But this is the world. This is reality. He curls against the shoulder. The red and black crawls into his vision, seeping in.
He feels Elrohir lift his face and press lips to his forehead. 'Ah, Estel, Estel,' he says softly, 'That is why we call you that. We may be the executioners, but you will be the hope. You will be the judge that is righteous and the saviour who shows mercy.'
Does he understand? No. But he does open his eyes, and pray that he is rightly named. So this is what Erestor meant, so many years ago.
Still, for days he hates the sight of his own hands, and dreams of red and black.
Red has become a friend, and so has black. White, however, was a newer one. The pallid, sickly shade on those ill or dying. He would rather see red; it meant they were still closer to being one who was living.
He sits over one of his people, one of the Dúnedain. He keeps a hand to a pulse, the other holding down a wound. Feverishly whispering healing words. Checking vitals. Watching for the aid that was long in coming.
'Do I have…permission to die?' The man utters these words in a voice barely above a whisper. 'Your per…mission to rest?'
'Just a little longer,' he says with the resolution he does not feel. Valar, they lost so many already. Would they lose one more tonight?
They share the same dark hair and grey eyes. The only difference was the white streaked in the hair, though not from age, but from tension and battle. Only forty years in difference; time did not matter as much to them. Kin. Not very closely related, but close enough.
There had only been weeks. He was trying. He was called to do this. But they never told him how to deal with this. Tales are one thing, but grief must be learned.
'I will not live to see you crowned.' A wet cough, and more red. 'I will n-not live to see daybreak.'
'You speak folly.'
'And you speak a falsehood.' They both knew.
'Do you think...I deserve one?' A hand rests over his. Weak as the grip was, it did not shake. 'My time is here.'
'I need all of you.' Pain blossoms in his chest and rises to his throat.
'We waited. And you came, Arathorn's son. We have not be forsa-' The man stops; there was blue now, in the lips. Cold, so much colder than the white. 'Your hands…are that of a leader. Not for burying.'
And then his fingers are pried away and laid aside. Eyes close, and there is no more new red.
He looks down at his hands; calloused, shaking, and bloodied. Is this what a leader's hands look like?
They are the burdens I carry. These hands that were once innocent, have now known the death of a comrade.
They will never be clean.
He digs into the earth and the rocks press into his nails. But it hardly matters.
What good were these hands if they could to not save more?
Ice clings to him, seeking to pierce through skin and muscle to bone. It seeks in through crevices and reaches into his lungs, want to wound and kill.
He swims in this world of ice and kicks. The cold mocks him, numbing certain areas but then stinging others. The sharpness of it is worse than a true blade. It was no worse than the voices though. Those gabble and rise, louder and louder. Some high, other low. But they all whisper or scream his name, taunting him. They claim things he is not, or is, but twist it to make it ugly. He cannot mentally put hands over his ears, as much as he wants to. And it is also dark. The murkiness of it all throws him in different directions, slamming him in walls or tripping him.
But he must do this.
As many times as he has to.
Through cold and pain, lies and blindness, he seeks for the warmth that is faltering, the weak voice crying for help, and the hands that reach for support.
He always finds them. Never has he doubted this; it was in his blood, but also in his spirit. Inherited the skill may be, but if he does not believe, it is empty.
And then he pulls them out. With a burst of light spilling through, it rends the darkness. The unlight howls, but he has succeeded.
He emerges grey and shaking; a headache pulses between his eyes and he cannot stand. But he as triumph.
The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.
…it seems to be right. He looks down. His fingers are not those of a youth's, having been scarred and hardened after decades of battling. They are weathered and have slain enemies.
Despite all that, they healed.
They did what a true murderer could never do.
They were his hands.
Gen av-achenion - I don't understand
Nin heniach - Can you understand me?
Dagrant di - You killed them
Agorech am man theled - How could you?
A/N: I hope you have enjoyed this. I surprised myself when I wrote this in two hours. Apologies for any mistakes.