Title: Return of Hope
Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel
Summary: Hope returns to the Dunedain, in a small village of the Angle, in T.A. 2951.
Author's Note: Any OCs you don't recognize are mine. Everything else belongs to Tolkien.
“Fair morning, my children,” Master Taithir said, smiling proudly as he viewed these – the hope of Tâduin – assembled on deerskin cushions in neat rows.
“Fair morning, Sir,” was chanted back at him from eighteen dutiful pupils.
“Fair morning, Ada.”
Taithir raised an eyebrow at Thanguron, leaning against the nearby yew tree. “And to you, ion nin. What do you here?”
The young Ranger’s eyes brightened. “A party from Imladris draws near, with Uncle Targon, and the Elrondionnath.”
“The sons of Elrond have not come to Tâduin for eighteen years,” Taithir whispered. “And now?”
“Now,” Thanguron said, “Hope has come.”
The children sat still, though they wanted to fidget, or go see who had come. Soon, a small group entered the square.
Between Targon and the Elrondionnath walked a youth no older than Thanguron, his dark hair elf-braided. His grey eyes were wide with wonder, seeming to look in all directions at once.
“Daro, Estel,” Elrohir rebuked him. “You must remain calm.”
‘Estel’ accepted the lessoning with a nod. “Yes, but Estel I can be no more. I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn.”
“Aragorn,” Taithir strode forward, and clasped his nephew in his arms. “I am your uncle Taithir. Welcome home.”
Aragorn was conducted to the royal lodge by his cousins Hallatan and Halbarad, the sons of his Aunt Arneth. He was shown to Arathorn’s former bunk and tidied his belongings away. When that was done, he could explore the village as he liked.
Tâduin was constructed of long tent-like dwellings made of poles and skins, easily dismantled should the Enemy come upon them. The bath house was near the river, and there was a swimming hole. Everything captured Aragorn’s interest, and yet something was missing.
“What troubles you, Aragorn?” Halbarad asked. “Is something missing?”
“Where is the library?” Aragorn asked.
Halbarad and Hallatan laughed, shaking their heads. “Where would we of Tâduin build such a thing? Oh, we have a few books,” Hallatan said. “But in the main, our archives are kept in the refuge of Esteldín, or at Imladris, of course.”
Aragorn sighed, his shoulders sagging a little. “If you have so few books, how do you learn anything?”
“We listen, learn, and remember,” Halbarad chided his cousin. “Surely even an Elven-raised princeling can manage that.”
Aragorn’s cheeks burned hot. “I can,” he said, feeling stung. “I remember what Master Erestor, Lord Glorfindel and Ad—Master Elrond taught me.”
So, Aragorn learned. As the seasons turned, he learned the ways of the village, doing chores and lessons with the children, and keeping to himself. He did his best to learn the ways of the people of Tâduin – his people – from the children, his people’s future.
By his first Midsummer, Aragorn impressed Taithir with his knowledge of the Prayers to Eru, and the sneering began to die off. By the time Yule arrived, he had the respect of his cousins, and the other youths his age. Many of his elders, too, were beginning to acknowledge how well he had done.
It took Aragorn some time before he finally felt at home in Tâduin. It took his cousins reconciling with him, his uncles and daeradar beginning to respect him as Chieftain, his daernaneth doing her best not to fuss over him.
Strangely enough, the first time it truly struck home that he was home, Aragorn was away from Tâduin, in Bree-land. Bree had affected him like his first ride into the Angle, wide-eyed, wondering, until a gentle rebuke from his uncles brought him back to reality. Once again, he had assumed a new name – Trotter. Trotter, Aragorn the Ranger, was home.