A Time To Wait by elwen of the hidden valley

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Story Notes:

The settings, characters and main events of this story all belong to the imagination of JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson.  They are not mine and I would not presume to lay claim to them.  I am borrowing them strictly for the non-profit-making purpose of fan fiction.
 

In this story, in the attempt to bring a little drama to the tale, I have assumed a link between Vilya and the One Ring that I believe was not intended by JRRT and would, if taken to its logical conclusion, cause problems later in the tale.  You will also find a merciless mix of book and movie version.  I am therefore labelling it AU.


 


Author's Chapter Notes:

There is a formatting problem that, despite my best efforts, I have been unable to fix.  So please forgive the 'bold' section in the centre of this chapter.


Biting his lip against the icy pain in his fingers, Elrond drew the shard out and dropped it in the earthenware bowl that Gandalf held ready.  The wizard left the room quickly and Elrond bent to cleanse the neat incision and make his stitches, confident that Mithrandir would undertake the necessary action to ensure the metal’s destruction.  From the other side of the large bed, Sam watched.

“Will he be alright now?”

Elrond did not lift his eyes from his work.  “He will begin to heal, now that the splinter has been removed.”  He did not continue his train of thought out loud for even he was not sure how far that healing would go.  Sam seemed content with the reply however.

The elven lord glanced at Frodo’s pale face once more.  The eyes were closed but he knew that when they opened they would be the deepest blue of a summer sky.  His was such a finely structured face and too small a frame to be the nexus of these events; the fate of Middle-earth resting in the soul of this fragile mortal.

Perhaps they were asking too much of him.  But then, that question had already been considered months ago.

000000

Elrond motioned Gandalf to one of the armchairs by the fire and handed him a glass of wine, smiling as he turned to hand one to his foster son and then pouring one for himself.  Aragorn rose from the other armchair in the room and offered it to the only father he had ever known, but Elrond shook his head and leaned against the edge of his desk, arms folded, glass in hand, and his foster son resumed his seat.  Long considered an adult by mortal standards Aragorn felt like a child beside these two who had seen so many centuries roll by. Outside, spring had arrived in the sheltered valley and trees were showing the green haze of opening buds.  The late March air was still cool, however, and the three were gathered before a small fire in the private study of the Lord of Imladris.  More formal meetings were held in a larger, more imposing, study but those who knew Elrond well were usually invited here. Elrond sipped his wine, pleased with the crisp cool dryness of it.  He must remember to arrange for more to be ordered.  Elrond recognised his mind’s attempt to slide away from considering the conversation that was about to begin.  For so many centuries he had been waiting for the One Ring to be found, so that it could be undone and he could leave these shores.  And now, Mithrandir said that it might have been discovered, at last.  But what would be the cost of its destruction?  How many lives would be lost in the battle this time? 

“Adar?”  Estel’s voice cut through his reverie.

“I am sorry, Aragorn.  Mithrandir, please repeat for me the words on the scroll you found in the great library of Minas Tirith.”

Mithrandir took a sip from his own glass, deeming the wine too dry for his taste, and his eyes grew distant as he began to recite from memory. 

“It was hot when I first took it, hot as a glede, and my hand was scorched, so that I doubt if ever again I shall be free of the pain of it.  Yet even as I write it is cooled, and it seemeth to shrink, though it loseth neither its beauty nor its shape.  Already the writing upon it, which at first was as clear as red flame, fadeth and is now only barely to be read.  It is fashioned in an elven script of Eregion, for they have no letters in Mordor for such subtle work; but the language is unknown to me.  I deem it to be a tongue of the Black Land, since it is foul and uncouth.  What evil it saith I do not know; but I trace here a copy of it, lest it fade beyond recall.  The Ring misseth, maybe, the heat of Sauron’s hand, which was black and yet burned like fire, and so Gil-galad was destroyed; and maybe were the gold made hot again, the writing would be refreshed.  But for my part I will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair.  It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.”

Elrond set down his glass, deciding that he had lost all interest in its contents.  “I must confess that I was not aware that the Ring was engraved but I believe I have heard the words of which you speak.”

Elf and wizard paused, each seeming lost in their own thoughts.  In the empty space, Aragorn looked from one to the other, finally deciding that if he did not ask he would never know.  “What is engraved upon it?”

The wizard merely looked across at Loremaster Elrond, who replied, “I will not speak it in the tongue in which it is graven, but it translates as . . . One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness bind them.”  The corners of Elrond’s mouth turned down, as though the words themselves had tasted unpleasant and he reached down for his glass to take a long swallow of wine.

Aragorn had not touched his own wine and he looked now at Gandalf.  “And this is the ring that you believe Bilbo found and has passed on to his nephew?”

“Yes, I think it may be.  And now we have a test to confirm it.”

The man sighed.  “It is a dangerous trinket to be left in the care of such an innocent.  He must surely be relieved of it as soon as possible.”

Elrond’s head snapped up and he glanced across at the mortal, eyes narrowing, then he dismissed the thought.  No, the Ring could not be affecting Estel from this distance.  The elf calmed his jangled nerves.  This would never do.  A little alarmed at the intensity of the gaze, Aragorn continued.

“He is defenceless against such an enemy, if wind of its discovery reaches the Nine.”   When Elrond raised a brow he explained.  “When I met Gandalf he told me that the Nine had been seen riding forth once more from Minas Morgul.”

Elrond winced at the name of that foul den.  “And so the Shadow grows once more.  Always it seems it fades only to deepen again and take on new form.  Who will stand against it this time?”  For the first time that Aragorn remembered, his foster father sounded old and weary.

Gandalf’s beard twitched and his voice took on a hard edge, determined to shake Elrond out of his growing melancholy.  “No-one will stand against it if Sauron regains the One Ring.  The first thing we must do is secure it as best we can, before the Nine discover it.  Then we can consider what must be done to destroy the Dark Lord of Mordor.”

For a moment wizard and elf lord locked eyes and it seemed to the mortal that the room was suddenly grown too small and he was pressed up against the wall, trying hard to draw breath.  Then Elrond’s gaze dropped and Aragorn inhaled.

When his foster father continued his tone was brisk and business like.  “You will need a place to hold it until a decision can be made on our next action.  I surmise that is the reason you have sought me out.”

Gandalf nodded.  “Indeed.  Rivendell is the closest refuge to the Shire . . . one of the few places in Middle-earth capable of standing against the Nine.”

“Against the Nine, perhaps.  But against the full might of Sauron’s forces?  No.  You may bring it here but then a decision must be made on where it is to be taken next and by whom,” Elrond announced, firmly.  “And you already know my opinion on that, Mithrandir.”

“Indeed I do.  And I am inclined to agree with you.  But let us take the first step.  I must establish that we are dealing with the One Ring and, if we are, I must make arrangements to deliver it here, in secret.”

Aragorn looked across at the istari.  “Why do you not simply explain to the hobbit.  He will probably hand it over, willingly.  They are a peaceful people and I cannot see him wanting anything to do with it if you explain its history.”

Two voices spoke in unison.  “No.”

It was Elrond who explained patiently to the mortal.  “The One Ring gains dominion over those who possess it by offering that which they most desire . . . but it then twists that thing until it serves only evil.  The greater the power of the one who wears it and the greater is the capacity for evil.  Were Gandalf to possess it, even for a little while, he would become as powerful as Sauron himself . . . perhaps even more so.  No . . . Frodo must be persuaded to bring the Ring here.  It would seem that hobbits are less easily swayed by its suggestions, if Bilbo’s possession of it is any indication.”

“And even he was falling under its spell at the end,” Gandalf pointed out.  “How is he, by the way?”

Aragorn saw his father’s face soften.  “You may judge for yourself, for I am sure he has already learned of your arrival and will not let you leave again without seeing him.”  His face grew serious.  “He will want any news you can give him of his nephew.”

The wizard nodded.  “I will say nothing of the Ring as yet.  After all, we are not sure that this is the One Ring.”

“Then we had better make sure, and soon,” Aragorn interjected, ever one for action.  “I am overdue to check on the Shire and Bree and I believe a closer eye should be kept if the Nine are abroad.  I would travel with you Gandalf, if you will have me?”

“I would welcome your company on this journey.”

Elrond smiled.  Mortals.  Always so hasty.  But then, they had so short a time in which to fit in all of life’s experiences.  And Aragorn, Son of Arathorn, Heir of Isildur, had much reason to see this particular chain of events set in motion.

 

 




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