- Coronation Jitters -
Legolas walked through the halls of Minas Tirith. He had only been down this passage once before and was hoping he had remembered all the turns correctly. Somewhere down this wing of the great palace were Estel’s private quarters. As he passed through the hallways he committed the path to memory, his lips turning in a soft smile as he realized that he would soon be very familiar with this place.
Estel’s coronation was in a few hours. Before the sun set today his friend would be named king over the entire human race. And he would be there to celebrate it with the man, the man he considered his brother. They had talked about this day for years. Now that it was here he wanted to make sure Aragorn was settled with everything. Not so long ago, in his elven mind, he remembered a ranger who was very uneasy with a future that included such responsibilities and power.
In Legolas’ mind there was no doubt that Aragorn would make a great king. He had been preparing for this very moment his entire life. By Legolas’ way of thinking all of the human’s past had built up to this very moment. His diplomatic skills had been tried and forged in the fires of adversity. His time with the Haradrim had taught him to see those less fortunate and view them as living beings not possessions. The human’s tender heart had united kingdoms, undone age old vendettas and even worn through the thick battle weary mantle his own father wore. The man, Aragorn, would make a great king if he would just let himself be himself.
Rounding a corner in the passage the elf was brought up short by a small contingent of armed men blocking a large ornate door. Recognition returned the smile to the elven face – Aragorn’s private chambers.
One of the soldiers stepped forward. The man was a tall Gondorian with dark eyes and hair that matched the color of sunlit shadows. His bearing would have been intimidating if Legolas had not remembered him. Jonath, yes he was sure that was the man’s name.
This was the captain of Aragorn’s new personal guard – a fact that irritated the solitary loving ranger immensely. They shadowed the new king everywhere he went. Estel had already confided in his friend that he would be making a point of learning how to slip away from them. He had no qualms that it would become a game in the man’s mind – his brothers were partly to blame for that one. That and the fact Aragorn was used to being alone and having large blocks of time to himself contributed to his unease with the new guards that had been assigned to him. Adjusting to his new life was going to take some time.
And some help.
And that was why Legolas was here now on his doorstep. The guard stepped closer to the elf blocking the princes’ way with his proximity.
“These are the king’s quarters. He is not to be disturbed,” the man spoke evenly. His gaze never wavered from that of the elf’s. He remembered seeing this being around the palace grounds but there were so many new faces lately and so many different races of peoples occupying the city that it was hard to remember who everyone was. He had already offended the king’s adopted family more than once he was sure, although they had been quite gracious. This whole new position that he had been promoted to had him on edge. He would be glad when things calmed down again and they could all settle into their new roles. Chaos had marked their former steward’s reign and the guard deeply hoped this new king would be different.
“Yes I know they are Aragorn’s quarters. May I please see him?” Legolas asked politely. He bowed his head slightly in deference to the man.
“Are you one of his brothers?” The soldier questioned. His tone held the edges of hopefulness as he lowered his guard and stepped back a pace. “I cannot keep track of everyone. I apologize. Already today there have been elves and dwarves and even a wizard coming and going from my liege’s quarters. It is quite overwhelming.”
Laughing softly Legolas laid a hand on the man’s shoulder to calm him.
“You are performing your job well. I’m afraid your king keeps odd company. Worry not. In time it will become second nature to you,” Legolas assured. He stepped closer to the door as the soldier fell in step with him.
“I hope so,” Jonath muttered under his breath. It surprised him when the elf started laughing. He hadn’t thought he had spoken that loudly. The fact that one more thing today had surprised him was in itself no small revelation – today every time he turned around something new shocked his knowledge of the world he had stepped into and it wasn’t yet midday.
“Wait,” Jonath halted the elf with a hand to Legolas’ arm. “*Are* you one of his brothers?”
The question had never been answered. Who was this elf who wanted access to the king? The soldier eyed the elf a little more closely. The being didn’t appear to be armed so he shouldn’t be a threat to the king… but he just had to be sure.
“Yes,” Legolas replied somewhat truthfully, “I am.” The fact that he didn’t explain himself further didn’t bother the soldier.
With a sigh of relief Jonath opened the door.
“Good, because Lord Aragorn has been asking for his brothers all morning long and I couldn’t find any of you among the sea of elves that are present. I am not sure I would have recognized you any way – forgive me.” He apologized softly.
“There is nothing to forgive. Give yourself time,” Legolas encouraged as he slipped inside the open door and quietly closed it behind him.
Aragorn was seated in front of a mirror fumbling with his hair. He had been trying in vain for the better part of the past hour to braid his unruly locks and was having no luck with what should have been a very simple task. His fingers caught in the tangles and the braids were uneven and lumpy. His frustration was rising as he roughly fingered out the braid he had just completed - again. It seemed today the simplest things were impossible tasks. It had taken him nearly an hour to just dress in his formal coronation outfit. He pulled at the collar which still remained undone at the top catch.
Hearing voices at his outer door, the new king desperately hoped his guard had found at least one member of his family.
“El? Is that you?” Aragorn called out without turning to look. “Ada?”
Legolas followed the soft mutterings of the human, tracking the sound of his friend’s voice into a room on the left. When the elf stepped into the bed chambers he faltered on the threshold. Aragorn sat on a small ornate bench, his hands trembling as he tried to braid his thick dark hair back away from his face in an attempt to mimic the elves he had grown up with. He was already dressed in his formal wear except for the flowing cape. That article of clothing was laid out on the bed waiting for its’ master. Even as frustrated as he was, Aragorn bore a regal bearing that Legolas had rarely seen in the younger man he was used to being around. There was no ranger in this room… a king of men sat before him.
Stepping up behind his friend, Legolas gently took the man’s hands in his own, stilling their frantic motions.
“Sidh mellon nín,” The elf whispered.
Aragorn jumped and turned part way around at the soft touch, pulling away from the hands that held his own. Recognizing the blue eyes that smiled down at him he sighed and slumped forward.
“Oh where have you all been? I can’t get this right,” Estel muttered softly as he turned back to the mirror. He fiddled with the catch on the stiff collar of his shirt. “And I can’t get my hair to cooperate.” He flipped the ends of the strands that fell back into his face. “No one knows where Elladan and Elrohir are - leastwise, not the men that have been assigned to me. They think all elves look alike. I’ve braided my hair a thousand times on my own and I’ve done the twins at least twice that many times as well. Why can’t I perform these simple tasks now? I can’t go out there looking like this! I can’t go out there period.” He finally stopped the worried tirade and glanced sideways at the elf that eased down next to him on the small bench.
“Yes you can,” Legolas encouraged quietly. Leaning around in front of Aragorn he easily snapped the catch on the collar shut and adjusted the cloth to be more comfortable and less restrictive. “And yes, you will.”
“How many times have we had this conversation?” Aragorn asked laughingly. He leaned against the elf and stared at them both in the mirror. “I look like… like…,” His voice tapered off as he screwed up his face in a half grimace.
“Like a king,” Legolas whispered, leaning into his friend.
“Not exactly the word I had in mind,” Aragorn countered. “And with hair like this…”
“No, that only makes you look like a ruffian. And we can’t have you imitating your filthy rangers while you are up there in front of all your subjects. You must look like a king. At least you washed,” Legolas taunted lightly laughing at his own joke. He scooted gracefully off the seat before Aragorn could smack him for the jibe. Legolas kept talking as he walked into the adjoining refreshing room and hunted through the cabinets for a brush. “Honestly Estel, you look just fine. You look every inch a king. Let me work with your hair and you work on relaxing.”
Having found what he was searching for Legolas re-entered the room to find Aragorn staring hard into the mirror at the reflection of his own face.
“Only you think I look like a king,” muttered the human.
“And those men out there guarding your door think the same thing. And the serving staff preparing for the evening’s celebration and the children who are playing in the streets imitating you and even the vendors that…” Legolas’ recitation of every person in Minas Tirith was cut short as Aragorn stopped him mid-sentence.
“All right, all right I concede the point. Everyone but me,” Aragorn laughed and looked back into the mirror as Legolas moved to stand behind him.
Slowly and gently the elf began brushing out the human’s long dark hair, untangling the misshapen braids and snarls that had been worked into the tresses.
“I still see someone who has a lot of growing up to do. Someone who only just yesterday fell from a tree into the most extraordinary journey he has ever been on. I’m still the same on the inside even though the outside looks a lot older,” Aragorn mussed.
“No,” Legolas corrected softly, “the inside has changed too. You just cannot see it as well as those around you can. The young man is grown and the recklessness has been lost to the tide of wisdom that has replaced the shallow pools of youth. There is not a stretch of Arda that you do not know like the back of your hand. And there is no clan or peoples or race that you can not sit and converse with without knowing their language or customs. You, dear human, have changed more than you realize. You are no longer that young brash ranger that fell into my life. You have indeed laid aside the boy to become who you were meant to be.”
Legolas kept talking quietly. He had deftly switched into the grey tongue as he brushed Aragorn’s hair.
“Your father was correct in naming you ‘Hope’, for that is what you are. You should see the faces of the people in your city. They are excited and fearful, hoping that you will be the one who will rescue them and care for them, unlike their former steward. They have long kept the tales of the one who would come and rule, passing on the hope of a better future to their children, and now here you are.” Legolas smiled at the reflection in the mirror. Aragorn’s eyes were fixed on his face watching him intently as the elf spoke. “This is what you were born to Estel. This is why you are. And when the time comes you will walk out there and up those stairs - without tripping mind you, like Gandalf has teased you about - and you will be the High King of Men. I know it.”
“And where will you be?” Aragorn asked quietly.
“I will be right in the front of the elven delegation, right where you can see me. I will meet you as you walk down the stairs my friend and take your first steps as King. I’ll be right where I always have been - with you at your side,” Legolas answered with a smile. “There finally the knots are all worked out. However did you do that to your hair?”
“I can t go out there looking like this!” Aragorn protested touching the edges of his shoulder length hair.
“And why not?”
“I wanted it braided like Ada’s always is, like the twins. Like yours! I am and always will be part elvish in my heart and soul. I wanted you all there with me in that one small way,” the man explained hesitantly. He realized now how foolish that sounded and stopped talking, his gaze quietly beseeching the elf’s.
“We will all be there. Your hair matters not to us,” Legolas countered. “Besides, watch…”
With his hands the elf formed a circle, an imitation of the crown that would be placed on Aragorn’s head. He slid his hands down over the soft brown hair pinning it in place where the token of kingship would sit.
“See it will look perfect. Braids would only get in the way of that circle of heavy gold you are going to have to tote around,” Legolas teased, trying to ease the tension.
“Yes well I’m exchanging that for a circlet as soon as I can get my hands on the resident jeweler. I think I’ll have one patterned after the style of the ones our fathers wear. That crown will break my neck if I have to wear it everywhere. Its only ceremonial you know.”
“Exactly. And that is why you can wear your hair down today and look perfectly fine. Trust me. I would never lead you wrong,” Legolas finished the thought. “So will you stop fidgeting with your hair now? You remind me of an elven maiden with all your fussing.”
The elf jumped back as the man turned swiftly trying to catch the nimble being with a swift smack.
“You’re worse than my brothers!” Aragorn shouted with a laugh.
“Yes well about that…” Legolas glanced back at the closed door behind them. “I told the guard at your door that I *am* one of your brothers. Poor man, he is very confused, Aragorn. I think you are going to have to sit down and explain your slightly extended family to him after all this is done – elves, maiar and dwarves.” Legolas raised his eyebrows as he recited the list of those the ranger considered his closest friends and family.
Aragorn snickered lightly at the revelation.
“Jonath, yes my newest shadow. One among many I am afraid. He’s actually the captain of my guard now, so don’t be confusing him anymore than necessary he’s…” Aragorn stopped speaking and stood to his feet in one fluid motion. He stared openly at the elf. His gaze reflecting a myriad of emotions caught Legolas off his guard.
“What is it?”
“Well, it’s just that, what you said is true,” Aragorn replied softly. He glanced down at his right hand. The faintest line of a scar traced his palm. An identical one graced Legolas’. “You *are* my brother.”
“Always,” Legolas agreed. He took the man’s hand in his own and squeezed it tightly.
Whatever else might have been said between them would never be known as the door to Aragorn’s chambers crashed open and a mild ruckus erupted in the ante chamber.
Walking quickly into the open receiving room Aragorn could not keep back his mirth as he watched his guards scuttle quickly back away from the cantankerous being that barged into the chamber.
“You have a lot to learn about manners young one,” Gimli charged the soldier on his left. “Why I was in here earlier this morning. And if you can’t remember that then perhaps you should be relieved of your post so you can recover some of *your* strength and your memory! Now get out of my way, I was sent by Gandalf and he doesn’t like to be kept waiting.”
Aragorn realized that Jonath had only just changed the guard on his door and the new soldiers had no clue what a dwarf would be doing in their liege’s chambers.
“It is alright, allow him to pass freely,” Aragorn instructed the men. He moved forward and took Gimli by the arm placing himself between the soldiers and the dwarf. “It is well. Please go back to your posts. We will be fine,” he reassured the guards while pressing the small dwarf back into his rooms towards the elf. The contingent of soldiers eyed the three beings oddly. He surmised that most of them had never seen a dwarf and that the amount of elves that had taken up residence in Minas Tirith the last few days was a bit overwhelming. Thanking his men one more time he turned back to his friends and ushered them into his interior room.
Legolas couldn’t help laughing at the small being that followed him. Gimli hadn’t stopped grumbling about all the incompetent uneducated youths he had encountered of late.
“Well they were probably trying to figure out if you are a male or a female of your species,” Legolas taunted.
The jibe worked as the dwarf sputtered and stammered for a proper response.
“You, yourself told us that it was hard to tell a male from a female,” Aragorn kept the teasing going. It took his mind off of other matters. It helped him to deny the reason why he knew Gimli had come.
It was time.
In moments Gimli was laughing heartily at the good natured teasing. He threw his own barbs back at the elf with gleeful abandon.
Before long, silence fell among the three friends. They knew what this moment meant and the weight that it held.
Finally Gimli broke the quiet.
“Well laddie, Gandalf is waiting. He asked me to fetch you. It’s time.”
There they were, those three words that made his heart quicken and his pulse race. Aragorn drew in a deep breath and closed his eyes, centering himself in the quiet as his friends waited.
“This is what you were born to do,” his father’s words echoed in his head. And he nodded slowly.
“Then let us go, it is not wise to keep a Maiar waiting,” Aragorn replied, smiling at the pensive faces that watched him.
Legolas helped him into his cape and with one last adjustment stepped back to appraise his friend.
“Yes,” he agreed with himself softly, “a king.” With a slight bow the elf addressed his friend. “And now I leave you in good hands. I must go find my father and the elven contingent or they will miss the festivities and I can’t have that. I would never live it down. I will see you on the steps my friend. And I *will* be there,” he reassured.
Aragorn followed the elf to the chamber doors. Before Legolas could leave, he pulled the prince into a warm embrace.
With a small nod Legolas ducked out of the door before Aragorn had time to stop him.
The doors to the chamber were thrown wide and Jonath, Captain of the king’s guard approached. Kneeling on one knee before Aragorn, Jonath swept his hand out before him in an awkward gesture of elven respect. It was something he had seen them do with one another and he knew that his new king was partial to the elves.
Their king, he corrected himself.
The word echoed in his mind like some forgotten dream. Gondor’s true king was finally in their midst. It was exciting for him to be able to be part of such a historic event. He would never have thought a few years ago that this would take place in his lifetime. The prophecies were being fulfilled before his very eyes. His children would grow up and know peace.
And today they were ushering in that new age.
“My lord, your kingdom awaits you,” Jonath explained as he stood to his feet and led the way to the grand terrace.
With a deep breath and a sideways glance at his small companion Aragorn stepped after the soldiers.
“Well what are we waiting for?” Gimli questioned with a knowing smile. “As soon as we get these dratted formalities over with, we can go celebrate with a good mug of mead and drown all our worries!” His hearty laughter rang through the hallways and eased the tension in Aragorn’s heart.
“Yes my friend, let us go.” Aragorn agreed. The light from the open doorway ahead spilled down the passage towards them. The very air was tinged with excitement and the crisp clean scent of newness. With one more deep breath Aragorn, son of Arathorn, took his last step as Aragorn, Ranger of the North, and crossed the threshold.
And so the house of Telcontar was born.