Sometimes my days now are filled with tedium and frustration. Sometimes I have had enough of councillors and politics, of endless meetings and pointless arguments. I rage against the lack of progress and conservative old men who will not change anything!
Sometimes I am so consumed with being a King and juggling all the problems that beset me that I lose myself. I need somebody to remind me who Estel of Imladris and Aragorn of the Dunedain actually are.
Sometimes I could take Elessar, King of Gondor and be done with him.
Today is one of those days.
It is a dreary, miserable Autumn day. The kind that make you realise Summer is finally gone. It is not yet cold but rain drizzles constantly until all feels wet and grey and depressing. It suits my mood exactly.
When I finally extract myself from meetings and agendas I know I need something to lighten my step. Someone to cut through the dismal, dreariness that burdens me.
I go looking for my son.
He is young and small and beautiful. He can lift me with a smile, with just one look. He lives in a world of knights and magic, of adventure and excitement. He can take the dullest day and make it shine.
I miss him.
I saw him at breakfast and not since then and so now I seek him out. Perhaps he will allow me to be one of his heroes today and I can accompany him on his flights of fancy. Today the idea of an adventure is a good one. If I am honest the idea of simply not being in Minas Tirith is a good one.
And so I look for Eldarion but I do not find him.
Instead I find Arwen but she is alone. He is not with her which is unusual. She lifts her head as I walk in the room and smiles. Every time I see her I can not believe I have her. How is it my life has worked out this way?
"You look weary." She says as I fling myself in a chair. It is good to be off my feet, good to be with her.
"You have no idea how tedious today has been." I complain.
"I was looking for Eldarion. Where is he?"
Her eyes light up at just the mention of his name.
"He is with Legolas."
Legolas. Why today of all days did Eldarion have to be with him?
Changeable, mercurial, mischievous, silvan, Legolas. He is my friend. The best of friends, but he can be so....exhausting. Today I do not think I have the patience to deal with Legolas and his oddness, which sometimes is enchanting, sometimes endearing and sometimes incredibly frustrating. Today I fear frustrated is what I will be.
And so I sigh, and Arwen laughs.
"Do not be so put upon Estel. Go and see them. Some time with Legolas will do you good."
"Some time with Legolas will give me a headache." I say, "Where are they anyway? His rooms were empty when I went past."
"Oh they are gardening." She says sweetly, turning her attention back to the book in her hands.
I stare at her but she does not return my look. I get up then and gaze out the window to check I am not mistaken. Is she teasing me?
"It is raining Arwen."
"Oh yes." Then she looks up, "They are gardening in the rain."
It is as if she think this a perfectly normal occurrence.
"Legolas thought it might be amusing." She laughs then. "Estel! Stop frowning. It is still warm out. A little water will not hurt either of them."
I do not think I have the energy to deal with a Legolas who wishes to spend his time gardening in the rain. He sounds very tiring. But what choice do I have. Eldarion is with him and I want to see Eldarion, so to the garden I must go.
There is a guard at the entrance to the gardens, it is an archway and past that I can see the misty rain drifting its way towards the ground. I am going to get wet.
"Have you seen my son?" I ask the guard casually because if they are not out there I do not want to waste my time standing in the rain.
"He is with the Elven Prince my Lord." He replies, "They are outside...." He indicates the garden and gives me a look that suggests he thinks them both mad, and perhaps me mad as well for permitting it.
There is nothing for it. I must face the weather.
I locate them quickly, two heads, one small with dark curls, one larger and blonde bent together over the mud. What do they do that is so fascinating?
The rain trickles down my face, behind my ears, down the back of my neck as I trudge towards them. It makes me truly miserable and more than a bit bad tempered. Eldarion sees me first—no that is not strictly true— Legolas will know I am here he just chooses not to look.
"Father! Look I have dug a hole!"
Eldarion looks like a ragamuffin, a child of the streets. His curls plastered to his face by the rain. Mud streaks upon his cheeks, his clothes a mess, but he is happy.
"That is an impressive hole indeed" I say seriously although in truth it is little more than a mud puddle. Legolas, beside him seems to have dug a veritable trench. He looks up at me now and smiles his most innocent, sweet, childlike smile. I do not believe him innocent in the slightest.
"Will you join us Aragorn?" he asks, and I glare at him. Does he really think I want to finish my day wading in the mud?
"Just what are you intending to do with these holes" I say, trying to distract my boy from the prospect of me digging.
"Oh," Legolas wipes his hands on his trousers and stands, he looks no better than Eldarion, and not remotely like a prince. "We are not sure yet."
"Not sure? Then why do you dig them?"
"Because it is enjoyable!" He laughs.
"I can think of more enjoyable things than being knee-deep in mud." I grumble. Eldarion has returned to his efforts and does not hear my bad temper, focused as he is upon his pile of dirt. "Do you know-" I ask Legolas, "there is a guard over there who thinks you quite mad."
"Perhaps he is right." Legolas tilts his head at me with amusement. "Perhaps I am mad. But if so, at least I am happy with it. They all think me mad, no matter what I do anyway, so why not fulfil their expectations once in awhile."
"He thinks me mad as well for standing here getting drenched while I talk to you. Could you not have waited until there was sunshine to do this?" I was right. Today being with Legolas will frustrate me.
"Then there would not be mud," he smiles as if I am a fool not to know this and he returns to his knees to join Eldarion in the dirt, whispering in his ear some kind of mischief that makes my young son giggle with delighted glee.
Briefly I feel a surge of resentment, of jealousy if I am honest. Eldarion is my son and today I wished for time with him yet here he is, in the rain, laughing with Legolas while I stand and watch. It seems unfair. But before I can even chastise myself and swallow it down Legolas lifts his head and fixes me with a long hard stare. He has felt that wave of unhappiness of course.
I have long ago learned you can keep no secrets from an elf, not truly. Legolas cannot read my mind—although sometimes I wonder—but he can read my soul. He feels the churn of my emotions as clearly as I do myself.
"Join us Aragorn," he says quietly. "Do not stand there being miserable when you could share in our adventure."
I am about to refuse. To tell him angrily there is nothing I want less. That I have had a hard day and I do not want to be wet and cold. I simply want my son who he has taken from me. But Eldarion looks up then too, face shining with excitement and love and I melt.
"Father," he says, "I know what we can do!" and he leaps to his feet. He is so agile, so dexterous. Was I ever like that? "Can we rain-dance?" he cries and I am confused.
"Rain-dance?" What on earth does he talk about now?
"The wood-elves do it. I dance with Legolas all the time...in the rain Father! It will make you feel better." Of course. Of course it is more Elven nonsense from Legolas.
But Eldarion does not wait for my answer, instead he is off, running across the lawn, around the garden, squealing at the top of his lungs as he goes. He holds out his arms as if he thinks to catch the rain as it falls and I give Legolas a look.
"What is this? This is not dancing."
He shrugs his shoulders.
"He thinks it is, Aragorn, and he is happy. Who is to say what is dancing anyway."
"And you taught him this?" Perhaps—I think—I must keep more control over Legolas' time with my child.
"Try it," he says. "Relax Aragorn. Forget about being King. Put it aside and be just Aragorn, my friend, his father, instead. It will do you good."
That irritates me. Since when is he qualified to give me advice on parenting? This time I let my irritation flow out.
"What do you know of being a father, Legolas?"
He replies with a look. One of his stern, 'I am not amused' Thranduil looks. The kind that cut you to the bone.
"Nothing." His voice is flat and emotionless. "But I know everything about what it is to have a Father who is a King, whose people must at all times come before me."
And so he deflates me and my anger bleeds away for he is right. My people do come before Eldarion, so often. How many times have I told him I will see him later...when work is done—and it is never done.
I look at my child longingly, as he careens around the grass, dripping wet and full of joy and I am full of remorse.
"I am sure he would prefer you," I say to Legolas. "You are the wild wood elf after all." And briefly he winces at my words, fleeting but I see it.
"It was you he asked," He says softly. "It is you he needs." And he gives me a gentle shove towards my son.
I glance at the guard then, who stands there, arms folded, disbelief written all over his face as he watches the antics of his little prince. What will he think when he sees the King running round as a maniac in the rain. What gossip will servants say about me when this story reaches their ears.
"You are King." Legolas whispers in my ear. "What is the point of being King if you cannot be a little crazy?"
And so I take a step, and then another, and then I am running too, and the rain runs down my face so I cannot see but it is refreshing, the blood flows through my veins and I am invigorated. I grasp my boy's hand and we are united in our ridiculousness. And he is happy, so happy, and it is I who has made him so.
Surely there will be no moment as perfect as this.
And Legolas sits and watches us from the garden, legs crossed, long hair dripping wet, plastered to his face, smiling his beautiful smile. The one which lights us all.
And when we return, Eldarion and I, breathless and exhilarated from our running, we find he has made us boats. Small delicate boats of leaves and sticks that I wonder how he has managed to build so quickly. And suddenly the muddy, rain-soaked, dirt-sodden holes have a purpose for they are a river, a lake, a racecourse and we sit there for what seems hours, until darkness falls and we have no choice but to depart. Laughing, arguing, racing our boats and playing in the mud.
I have found Estel, and Aragorn both.
And it is Legolas and Eldarion who have led me to them.
A sweet nonsense one shot which begged to be written.
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