From the North we came with this purpose, and from Elrond our father we brought this very counsel. We will not turn back.
Elrohir—The Return of the King (The Last Debate)
Rising over the dark, tortured peaks of the Ephel Duath, the sun slowly cleared the horizon, filling the crisp spring air with light. The sun first glanced off the broad sides of Mindolluin, still covered in snow after an unusually harsh winter, before moving down the mountain to twinkle upon the tall Tower of Ecthelion. Alerted to the sun’s coming, birds newly returned from their winter havens in Lebennin and Belfalas began to sing and chirp, leaving their roosts in search of food and friends. Steam rose from Anduin as it meandered its way through fertile fields beyond the Rammas Echor. The river was already swollen from early snowmelt to the north, and within a few weeks it would begin the annual flooding of the lower plains.
As the sunlight continued its journey into the city of Minas Tirith, sounds began to echo up from the streets. A loud vender calling for business was heard. There came the voice of a young mother scolding her children. The clang of hammer and anvil rose from the lowest circle where the smithies were housed. With the morning firmly underway, more people began to leave their homes, seeking work or pleasure.
Watching all this from the ramparts of the seventh circle, Elladan, son of Elrond and lord of Rivendell, smiled and his eyes danced. To those unaware of what the future held, it was a beautiful, peaceful spring dawn. But this particular dawn was not fated to stay peaceful, and Elladan waited with anticipation, wondering when the veneer of calm would first break. And as he waited, he entertained himself with thoughts of all that would happen this day. By the reckoning of the Shire, it was March 24, but by the reckoning of Gondor, Rohan, and all their allies, it was New Year’s Eve. Fifteen years ago on the morrow, Sauron’s reign of terror had been broken forever and the calendars in the southern portion of Middle-earth had begun anew. Naturally, this called for a time of great celebration. For the elves, it also called for a time of great mischief.
Elladan wondered if Minas Tirith was ready for an elven version of New Year’s Eve. He seriously doubted it. Aragorn seemed to have lost his fun-loving edge since becoming king, and Elladan intended to see that his foster brother regained some of that edge this day, with or without Aragorn’s permission. In fact, he and Elrohir had come to Gondor against Aragorn’s wishes. Well, not exactly against them, but they certainly did not have his blessing to be here. When they had first broached the idea that they might celebrate the New Year in Minas Tirith, Aragorn’s reaction had been one of extreme reluctance. His reception when they had ridden up to the gates of Minas Tirith in the company of Eomer, Lothíriel, Elfwine, Merry, Pippin, and Gimli had been something of a cool welcome. In fact, to Elladan’s shrewd eyes, Aragorn had come within scant inches of completely forbidding them entry to the city.
By contrast, Celeborn had been all too eager to send the twins off. Elladan’s smile grew larger and he shook his head. Since coming to Rivendell ten years ago, the former lord of Lothlórien had endured a decade of New Year’s Eve festivities with something of an ill grace. Celeborn was not without talent when it came to responding in kind, and it had taken nearly two months for Lindir’s hair to grow back after the last fiasco. But when all was said and done, not even Celeborn the Wise had been able to compete with the combined forces of Elladan and Elrohir, who had earned even Thranduil’s grudging respect in this matter—and occasionally his dangerous retaliation, as well. So when an opportunity came to rid himself of Elrond’s twin sons, Celeborn had latched on to it with feverish intensity. His aid in the departure preparations had been so enthusiastic as to border on insulting.
But then, I suppose I cannot truly blame him, Elladan mused to himself. He was not terribly pleased to wake last year and discover an entire battalion of female "Orcs" in his sleeping quarters. And Elrohir wondered if they would be convincing enough… Elladan laughed quietly, remembering the looks of rage, frustration, and weary resignation that had crossed Celeborn’s face that day. It had truly been one of the twin’s greatest moments. He doubted that it could be topped this year, but that would not stop them from trying.
Unfortunately, Aragorn seemed to be all too aware of their game. The previous night as they were eating together, Aragorn had informed both Elladan and Elrohir in no uncertain terms that this was not an elven holiday and they were not in elven lands. Arwen had started to laugh at this announcement while both Elladan and Elrohir summoned their best expressions of innocence. Of course, this only served to elicit a very stern glare from Aragorn that had reminded both twins of Elrond at his most disgusted. The glare then spread to Legolas, who had been laughing quietly in the back of the room where he’d been trying to appear inconspicuous. Elladan smiled at the memory. Clearly, he and Elrohir were not the only ones planning to celebrate an elven version of New Year’s Eve.
Sounds so quiet that they would have gone unnoticed by mortal ears suddenly caught Elladan’s attention, and he turned to greet his brother as he was joined upon the ramparts. Elrohir was looking very satisfied with himself, and Elladan’s grin became larger. "I take it that they are both still asleep?" he asked.
Elrohir began to laugh and shook his head. "Whatever Arwen created to put in their wine yestereve has done its work well."
Elladan chuckled and turned his eyes back out over the city. Since they were old enough to plan mischief, none had ever equaled the children of Elrond in holiday pranks. Arwen was always a minor participant, but she never failed to take part in some way or another.
"Aragorn and Arwen are both awake, as well as Faramir and Imrahil," Elrohir continued, leaning out over the wall and studying the streets below. "And surprisingly enough, Merry and Pippin have also roused themselves. I believe they smelled the breakfasts cooking."
"They ate enough last night to satisfy a mûmakil!" Elladan exclaimed.
"You saw them eat on the journey here," Elrohir answered with a shrug. "You know how much they are capable of consuming."
Elladan shook his head in amazement, thinking back over the trip to Minas Tirith. It had been one of the most unusual six weeks of his life. First of all, they had encountered no mishaps on the journey. That alone was enough to launch the trip into the annals of history, for rarely had the sons of Elrond ever journeyed abroad without something going disastrously wrong. Second of all, they had been traveling with hobbits. When they arrived at Edoras and joined Eomer and Gimli’s party, the dwarf had laughed uproariously as the twins had attempted to explain their astonishment for a hobbit’s capacity to eat. Journey with them when food is rationed, Gimli had said in between gasps for air as his mirth got the better of him. That is also quite an experience.
"So what delights shall we prepare next, brother?" Elrohir asked, tipping his face upward into the sunlight.
"I thought it best to see what exactly is planned and then to work from there," Elladan answered. "This is not Imladris where we control the activities. We shall have to learn the plan for the day and then arrange our own planned activities to match."
"It is good that I am here, then," Elrohir said. "You have no talent for such coordinating."
Elladan scowled and started to respond, wondering if he should threaten to break the unbroken vow about never playing tricks upon one another, but he was interrupted by a sudden bellow that threatened to tear asunder the distant Rammas Echor.
The scowl upon the eldest twin abruptly disappeared, replaced by a broad grin and a chuckle. "Shall we see if the hobbits have left us breakfast?" he asked.
Elrohir nodded, his smile equally wide. "Yes. And while we are out and about, let us pay a visit to Gimli in his quarters. I fear that our good dwarf has met with some misfortune."
* * * *
Aragorn, son of Arathorn woke with a feeling in the pit of his stomach that everything on this day was going to go horribly awry. In some ways he viewed the act of waking itself as commensurate with the act of dangling the palantír before Pippin. By even rising from his bed, Aragorn was courting disaster.
He had said nothing of his fears to Arwen, but she sensed his inner turmoil. Her looks of pity had not gone unnoticed, but then, neither had her looks of fleeting glee. Something had happened during the night, and she had been party to it. This only served as confirmation for Aragorn’s growing sense of calamity, and he wondered when the first stroke would fall. He also wondered if there were any serious repercussions to making the city off-limits for all elves this day.
He had come down to breakfast, fearing that all the food in Minas Tirith would have suddenly disappeared overnight, and was pleasantly surprised to find Merry, Pippin, Faramir, Imrahil, and Lothíriel already starting the first meal of the day with no hint of doom hanging over the table. Eomer, Eowyn, and Elfwine had yet to make an appearance while Legolas, Gimli, Elladan, and Elrohir were suspiciously absent, but Aragorn was willing to give the morning a game attempt. Yet his instincts would not be silent. Legolas, Elladan, and Elrohir could not be up to any good. That much was certain. And as for Gimli… Well, Aragorn wouldn’t put it past Legolas to have instilled a bit of elven humor in the dwarf. It would not be the strangest thing to come out of that uncanny pair.
But so far, nothing had happened, and Aragorn was determined to enjoy the brief calm for all it was worth. He was under no illusions that the peace and quiet would last, and he knew very well that his warnings about behaving themselves were going to go completely unheeded by Elladan, Elrohir, and Legolas. He only hoped that he could contain enough of the damage to prevent a coup from an outraged populace.
Aragorn started, broken out of his thoughts, and looked to Arwen. Her expression suggested that she had been calling him for quite some time and he tried to quell rising feelings of embarrassment. "Yes?"
"Were you planning on joining us?"
Realizing that he had been staring at the serving buffet for several minutes without moving, Aragorn shook his head and sighed. He could not miss the puzzled looks that came his way, but he attempted to ignore them as he filled his plate with food and took a seat next to Arwen at the dining table.
"Are you feeling well?" Faramir questioned.
"Yes. A brief lapse in concentration. Pay it no mind," Aragorn said, attempting to dismiss the issue.
"If you wish, sire, I can oversee the preparations in the Pelennor Fields," Imrahil offered, his gray eyes studying the king with concern.
"Your assistance is appreciated, but I also wish to be there," Aragorn answered. "I assure you that I am well. Simply distracted."
"What’s happening in the Pelennor Fields," Pippin asked around a mouthful of meat.
"We are setting up games and contests for tomorrow’s celebrations," Arwen answered. "From what I understand, there are tents, fields, stands, and other structures that require building."
"And we must create a place where horses might be stabled," Lothíriel added, a proud look in her eyes. "For Rohan intends to race even if none shall race against us."
Imrahil laughed and shook his head. "You will have competitors, daughter," he promised. "We shall see how your husband defends his honor as king when I best him in a sprint around the Rammas Echor."
"A sprint it may be for Eomer and Shade, but it shall be an arduous journey for you," Lothíriel shot back.
"What is this?" a new voice asked, and eyes turned as Eowyn entered, closely followed by Eomer.
"Lothíriel has been telling us that Shade seems to be feeling his years," Faramir answered, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Faramir!" Lothíriel reprimanded sharply. "I said no such thing," she continued, looking to Eomer. "I was explaining how you were going to prove Rohan’s superiority tomorrow on the track."
Eomer grinned and took a seat next to his wife, enfolding one of her hands in his own. "Rohan’s superiority is proven already, but we shall make certain that none forget it tomorrow."
"It seems to me that the superiority of Rohan is waning," Imrahil challenged. "Perhaps the older generation can sit the back of a horse, but the younger generation cannot even rise with the sun. I do not see Elfwine in our presence."
"Yes, where is the crown-prince of the renowned Riddermark?" Faramir asked. "Surely the hardy Rohirrim are not going soft!"
"Your accusations are but vain hopes and wishes," Eomer said airily. "Our son is down upon the Pelennor Fields as we speak with the rest of my men, exercising the steeds that shall best you on the morrow."
"A bit young for that, isn’t he?" Imrahil questioned.
"At nine, he is more than capable," Eomer assured them, his face shining with pride. "The Rohirrim grow to men quickly, unlike our lazy allies to the east."
"Has anyone seen Arwen’s brothers or Legolas and Gimli this morning?" Aragorn asked, deciding to interrupt the friendly rivalry in an attempt to assuage his fears. With every boast and every challenge, he could not help but be reminded of the many boasts and challenges that had taken place in Rivendell during his younger years, and they had always ended in trouble. And since his two brothers, the youngest Mirkwood prince, and the prince’s dwarven friend were still missing, Aragorn had a feeling that trouble was about to ram him head-on.
At his question, there was a flash of something across Arwen’s face, but it passed too quickly to be recognized. And before Aragorn could think to question it, Arwen rose and bowed. "If you will excuse me, I think I shall see to Eldarion. He is probably awake by now."
"Our elven visitors have not risen?" Eowyn asked, her brow furrowing.
"I thought elves were always up first," Merry commented as Arwen hurried out of the room, polishing off his second plate and looking for more.
"They usually are," Aragorn murmured, his narrowed eyes staring at the doorway through which Arwen had just left. He was toying with the idea of following her and pursuing this topic at length, but before he could do so, a great cry that rocked the foundations of Mindolluin itself echoed through the palace.
As everyone around him jumped in surprise and subsequently shot to their feet, Aragorn shuddered and dropped his head, catching his face in his hands. Why me?! he demanded, sending his pleas to the ears of a seemingly deaf Ilúvatar. By the Valar, why me?!
* * * *
Nestled in a bed as soft as feathers, Legolas Greenleaf blearily rolled onto his side and stared at the open balcony, wondering how the sun could be shining. He had only retired moments ago. At least, that’s what it felt like. But then, there was a strange pounding sensation in his head that indicated something might be amiss. And as he attempted to focus his vision and further rouse his hazy faculties, he recognized this pounding sensation as the aftereffects of a sleeping draught. And with this realization came another, more distressing thought.
Elladan! Elrohir! Valar, they have struck first!
Shaking off the last vestiges of sleep, Legolas pushed himself to a sitting position, stopping for a moment so that the room might quit spinning. And while he waited for the vertigo to cease, he looked around his whirling room, fully expecting to see some hideous gift from the infamous twins. But what he did find was even more of a shock.
The bellow that initially woke him echoed again, and Legolas grimaced, now having a fairly good idea of what had happened. If memory served, he and his brothers—with Thranduil’s blessing—had done something similar to Elladan, and Elrohir when Lord Elrond and an escort of Noldor elves had paid a visit to Mirkwood. Gimli was not going to be appreciative. Legolas only hoped he could convince the dwarf as to the identity of the true culprits. Eyeing an odd assortment of clothing and weaponry in the corner that had not been there when Legolas went to sleep, the youngest prince of Mirkwood debated about taking the items with him. He ultimately decided against it. Gimli would be easier to talk to if he was not wielding his axe, which was currently lying next to Legolas's bed.
Throwing on his clothes—which had been left untouched for reasons the elf could not guess—Legolas hurried out the door and started down the hall. Quickly rounding a corner and entering the corridor where Gimli’s quarters lay, the prince stopped short and gasped. The young lords of Rivendell had taken their game to new heights this year. Where Gimli’s doors were supposed to be was a series of roughly hewn boards—which looked suspiciously as though they might once have been the doors themselves—lodged between the frames in such a fashion as to prevent entry or exit by anyone larger than a hobbit. They were also cunningly arranged in a complex pattern that would make removal difficult if one did not have an object with a sharp blade, such as an axe. And since Gimli’s axe—as well as all the dwarf’s clothes including those he used for sleeping—had somehow wandered into Legolas’s room, the dwarf was very much a prisoner.
He was also quite a comical sight, and it took all of Legolas’s energy to refrain from breaking forth into a large grin. Clad in a bed sheet—the twins had at least left him that much—the fuming dwarf was standing behind the crossing beams of wood and looking as though murder was not far from his thoughts. But it was difficult to take him seriously when he was standing as a caged animal with naught upon his body save for the sheets from the bed, and a smile was pulling furiously on the corners of Legolas’s mouth.
Unlike Legolas, Gimli was not the least bit amused. Catching sight of his friend as well as the smile that was threatening to appear, he adopted his best glower and turned flashing eyes upon the elf.
"Legolas, if you—"
"Gimli, ere you say aught, I must tell you that—"
"What is the meaning of all this?!"
Legolas turned around and grimaced as Aragorn, Faramir, Imrahil, Eomer, Eowyn, Lothíriel, Merry, and Pippin came hurrying down the hallway. I wonder if the morning started peacefully, he mused, studying the harried look upon Aragorn’s face. It would have been nice to wake early enough to enjoy some quiet before the day began.
"Legolas, what have you done to the doors?!" Faramir suddenly demanded, stepping around the elf and catching sight of the blockade. "And why is Gimli…" he trailed off and stared at the dwarf, who managed a deadly return glare.
Aragorn looked completely flustered—which was a rather unusual look for him—and Legolas decided to explain the situation before things got any worse. Not that I think they will get any better, he added to himself. But perhaps I can keep some of this under control. "Aragorn, I believe that—"
"I understand that you and a few other individuals under this roof feel it necessary to act as children on this day," Aragorn interrupted, and something in his voice caused Legolas to take a step backwards. "But did you truly feel it necessary to destroy a perfectly good door and trap Gimli behind it while at the same time stealing his clothes?"
"I was asleep!" Legolas protested. "I had nothing to do with—"
"You mean to tell me that you heard nothing of any of this and yet you sleep only one hall away?!" Gimli shouted.
"If you will allow me to explain—"
"It had better be a very good explanation," Aragorn warned with a slight growl.
A stifled snort from behind caused Legolas to send a quick glare in the direction of Imrahil and Eomer, who both looked as though they were enjoying this far more than they should have been. Legolas was certainly no longer enjoying it as he had suddenly become the primary suspect. I would not mind being the primary suspect if I had actually played the trick, the elf reflected, turning his attention back to Aragorn but not before he caught a hidden smile on Eowyn’s face and heard some quiet laughter from Merry and Pippin.
"As I said before, I was asleep. I believe I was drugged, as was Gimli. Sometime during the night—"
"If you were drugged, then why did this not happen to you?!" Gimli demanded. "You stand there with your clothing and dignity intact, yet I…" The dwarf abruptly trailed off and seemed to realize that his audience now included more than just Legolas. A red blush crept over his face at the sight of Eowyn and Lothíriel in the crowd of onlookers. "Aragorn, if you would be so good as to—"
"Done," Aragorn said. "Lady Eowyn, Lothíriel Queen, by your leave, we would ask for some privacy."
Lothíriel laughed and nodded, but Eowyn was a different matter. "I was practically raised in the barracks," the shieldmaiden of Rohan answered, folding her arms and making no move to depart. "There is nothing here that I have not seen before, and I wish to be here for the end result of this tableau."
"Eowyn…" Faramir began, but a stern look from his wife quickly stopped him in his tracks.
"There is no reasoning with her in this state," Eomer said with an apologetic shrug. Eowyn narrowed her eyes and glared at her brother.
"What goes forth here?" a new voice suddenly called out.
"You!" Legolas shouted, breaking away from the crowd and hurrying toward Elladan and Elrohir. "Will you kindly explain what happened here?"
"We have only just arrived," Elladan said, adopting an expression of innocence that didn’t fool Legolas for a second. "Would it not be better if you were to explain what happened here?"
"Gimli!" Elrohir cried, feigning astonishment. "Gimli, by the Valar, what have you done to your doors?"
"Legolas, is this why Gimli’s clothes and his axe are in your room?" Elladan asked, turning to the Mirkwood prince with a quizzical expression on his face but with laughter dancing in his eyes.
"Mark my words, half-elf," Legolas hissed, his own eyes narrowing with threats and promises. "You will regret this. The House of Oropher has never before lost this game, and it shall certainly not lose to the House of Elrond."
"Legolas!" Gimli roared. "Legolas, if you do not return my axe and my—"
"Peace, Gimli," Legolas interrupted. "An explanation must be made, for things are not quite as they seem. I woke only moments ago, drugged as I said before, and discovered that your axe and your clothing had appeared in my room. I put forth the charge that our good friends Lord Elladan and Lord Elrohir are the true culprits."
"Bold words, Sindar elf," Elladan said, a smile playing upon his lips. "But answer me this, if you can. Why did nothing happen to you or your room? You say you were drugged. Would that not have been a perfect opportunity for us to act?"
"Yes, and you used it!" Legolas accused, hating the feeling that he was still on the defensive. "You used it to blame this upon me!"
"You have no evidence," Elladan said with something akin to dismissal. "You can prove nothing."
A loudly cleared throat on the part of Aragorn interrupted the debate, and Legolas turned to notice that almost everyone with the exception of Aragorn and Gimli was either trying not to laugh or trying to control the laughter that could not be held back. As for Aragorn and Gimli, the king looked as though he were preparing to battle a Nazgul while Gimli looked as though he had just killed the Nazgul and was ready to take on a second.
"My friends, and at the moment I use the term loosely, if one of you would fetch those things that belong to Gimli and bring them here, it would be appreciated. In the meantime, another could see about dismantling the boards on Gimli’s room while another shall go to the carpenters and request new doors." There was a moment of silence after Aragorn had spoken in which no one moved. His voice had been dark, cold, and somewhat reminiscent of Glorfindel at his most dangerous. "Now!" Aragorn suddenly barked, spurring everyone into motion.
He is definitely king, Legolas reflected, hurrying away to his own quarters in order to retrieve Gimli’s clothes and weapons. But king or no king, this cannot go unpunished. Aragorn will seek to thwart me, of that I am certain, but I have been defying powers greater than he for centuries. Beware, Elladan and Elrohir. The first battle is yours, but we shall see who laughs last.
* * * *
"And what happened after Estel ordered you to action?"
"Legolas went to fetch Gimli’s things, Elladan, went down to the fifth circle to inquire about the possibility of doors, and I attempted to free Gimli from his prison."
Arwen smiled, shook her head, and resumed the somewhat futile attempt to feed Eldarion. The crown-prince of Gondor, now four years of age, had already driven his nurses to exasperation this morning, and Arwen had been forced to assume the feeding process since she and Aragorn were among the few individuals to whom Eldarion occasionally accorded respect. Unfortunately, this morning was proving to be a trying one. Eldarion did not wish to eat but rather wished to play. "Were you successful in freeing him?" Arwen asked as her son wiggled away from her yet again. "For Gimli is wise now in the ways of the elves. I have no doubt that he knows Legolas is innocent."
"And for that very reason, I was not successful," Elrohir laughed. "I had no wish to loose Gimli without another there to hold him at bay. I gave a very convincing performance at prying away boards, though. Even so, it will probably take an axe to get through them."
"It is fortunate, then, that Legolas has learned somewhat in the way of wielding an axe," Arwen said, deciding to give up on feeding her son. If he became hungry, she would feed him then. At the moment, he was far too much of a hassle to bother with, and though she was stubborn, he could be even worse. In this, he had inherited his father’s temperament, though Aragorn claimed that Eldarion’s stubbornness came from Arwen’s elven side. "So Gimli is free from his prison now and fully clothed?"
"I do not know, for I left when Legolas returned," Elrohir answered with a shrug. "The grandson of Oropher did not seem predisposed to casual conversation, and he was carrying an axe."
Arwen laughed. "Then leaving was a wise policy."
"A very wise policy," Elrohir agreed with a wide grin. "I only hope that Elladan recognizes his peril and avoids both Legolas and Gimli until such time as I can accompany him." The younger of the twin brothers suddenly leaned down and scooped up a racing Eldarion, holding the squirming child tightly against his chest. "And what cause do you have for this excitement, young prince? You act as though you wish to join me this day."
"No," Arwen said firmly, her arms folding across her chest. "Absolutely not. I have already participated in your fun and I will not have you involving Eldarion in Valar-knows-what you have planned for today."
"You do not trust me to watch him?" Elrohir asked, attempting to look hurt.
"No, we do not," a new voice interrupted sternly as Aragorn came through the door of the nursery. "Eldarion is not going to be party to any of your foolishness, and if you are wise, neither are you."
Elrohir frowned and studied his foster brother. "You have grown far too serious, Estel," he said at length. "I remember a child who would beg to be included whenever we—"
"That child also received most of the blame," Aragorn shot back, his eyes flashing. "And I have no doubt but what that will remain true today. I am not going to allow you to terrorize the people of Minas Tirith. They are unfamiliar with elven ways and may very likely stage a rebellion by the time you are through."
"All evidence to the fact that they must needs be taught elven ways," Elrohir answered with a cheeky grin.
"They are men," Aragorn said firmly, drawing out and enunciating each and every word. "Let them celebrate as men do."
"But you were once accustomed to celebrating as elves do."
"Elrohir, you are in a kingdom of men who have a very limited understanding of the elves. Surely you learned something of how to behave appropriately."
Elrohir made a show of thinking about that and then shook his head. "Nay, I believe Elladan received all those lessons, and you will recall how terrible his memory can be. Very selective at times. Most strange. But while we are on the subject of appropriate behavior, who are you to order me? I am far older than you, Estel. Moreover, I am a guest in your kingdom. Surely you should cater to my wishes."
"Only insofar as your wishes do not prompt a civil war! And it is usually the custom of guests to act with less insolence."
"Peace," Arwen interrupted, making only a half-hearted attempt at hiding her smile. "Peace, Estel. Our brothers know their limits. They shall not turn the people against you. Correct?" This last was said with a very pointed look at Elrohir, and he nodded reluctantly.
"We shall do nothing directly to your people," he promised. Arwen caught a flicker of rebellion in her brother’s gray eyes, but the tones in his voice indicated sincerity. It was probably the best she could hope for.
Aragorn seemed less than satisfied, but he also apparently realized that no better promise would be extracted from Elrohir. With a sigh, he sent his foster brother a baleful glare—which was neatly fielded and returned with an innocent smile—before directing his attention to Arwen. "Have you plans for Eldarion’s activities this day?" Aragorn asked.
Arwen looked to Eldarion who was still wiggling in his uncle’s grip but appeared to be enjoying the game of attempting to escape. Periodically, Elrohir would pretend to drop the child only to scoop him up again at the last minute. "I had nothing specific in mind," Arwen said after a moment of thought. "I did wish to take him down to the Pelennor Fields as he has an interest in horses. Perhaps he might like to meet some of the fair steeds from Rohan."
"Eomer tells me they are being exercised at the moment, so Eldarion will not be able to see them until this afternoon when they have calmed down," Aragorn murmured, seeming to speak to himself. "That works well, then. Arwen, what would you say to finding someone other than the nurses to tend Eldarion this morning? They might enjoy having the holiday to spend as they see fit."
"I suspect that you have someone in mind," Arwen noted, wondering what her husband was up to.
"Gimli showed himself to be very good with Eldarion when he visited us last year. Perhaps he and Legolas would enjoy spending some time with the crown-prince of Gondor."
Arwen covered her mouth at the look of sheer and utter dismay upon Elrohir’s face. Apparently more had been planned for Legolas and Gimli, but the introduction of Eldarion into the picture complicated things. And judging from the gleam in Aragorn’s eye, choosing Gimli and Legolas as Eldarion’s guardians was no accident. He was doing his best to keep the worst of the troublemakers separated and occupied for as long as possible. A good attempt, love, but you know that all four of them shall find a way to work around it. Perhaps four different ways, which shall make this a very interesting day indeed. Still, I suppose that one must make the effort. "That sounds like a wonderful idea, Estel," Arwen answered with a smile. "Shall we go to them and tell them of their duties for the day?"
"The sooner, the better," Aragorn said, offering Arwen his arm and turning to leave. "Elrohir, would you be so good as to bring Eldarion down? You are doing an admirable job of holding him."
"Enjoy yourself while you can, little brother," Elrohir muttered, getting a better grip on Eldarion and following the king and queen out the door. "This day has only just begun."