“The King said he was not to be disturbed.”
“He obviously did not mean me!”
“He did not mention you, my Lord.”
Seriously. . . These people. . .
“He is not expecting me. Obviously if he was, his instructions would have been No one must be allowed to disturb me except Legolas.”
The guard simply frowns at me. He remains unconvinced. It seems I must play my trump card.
“Have you met my Father?” I say conversationally, and his eyes widen. My Father has not been to Minas Tirith often, perhaps only twice, but they remember him. He strides in, grand and imposing, terrifying to a Man who might know little of elves, and creates an impression that lingers long after he is gone. That impression works like magic here.
He stands aside in an instant.
“Of course, My Lord,” he stutters and for a second I feel guilty. It really is not fair using my Father to terrify these poor innocent Men, but I needed to see Aragorn and this way causes less commotion than making a fuss.
Aragorn is seated at his desk when I enter, head bent over paperwork, a frown flitting across his face when he hears the opening of the door.
“Can you not leave me alone for even an hour?” He grumbles, not raising his head from the parchments in front of him. “What part of do not disturb me did you not understand?” He is not usually that terse with his men. It is so unlike him.
“The part that includes the fact you did not actually tell me.” I reply. I will jolt him out of this miserable mood if it kills me! If only for the sake of his poor guards.
And he looks up in surprise.
His face transforms in that moment. In a second the frown vanishes as if it has never been, a wide smile replacing it which lights him up from the inside out so that briefly he seems radiant. It is a most gratifying reception, I must say.
“Legolas!” He is on his feet in an instant and around the desk to embrace me. “What are you doing here?”
“I became bored with the machinations of Noldor Lords and thought Gondorian Kings might be more pleasant company,” I laugh and set myself down in the nearest chair, “but perhaps I was wrong in that since you do not seem to be seeking any company at all.”
“I was not expecting you, you fool.”
He sits down across from me narrowing his eyes as he does so. “How did you get in here?”
“Through the city?” There is a tension in his voice as he asks that.
“Yes through the city, but do not worry. The Keeper of the Elves ensured I was properly escorted. You cannot afford to have me running wild here obviously.”
“The Keeper of the Elves?”
“Daegal. He was most insistent I not be allowed to roam alone.”
“Good.” He leans back in his chair reassured but he does not elaborate. So I will have to drag it out of him then.
“Good? Am I so unreliable, Aragorn, that you do not trust me alone in your city?” I start with righteousness indignation.
“It is not that. You are the Lord of Ithilien. There is a protocol that must be followed and I am pleased to hear he does so.”
And he calls me stubborn!
“Or could it be that you do not think your city safe for the Lord of Ithilien to stroll through?” I pull the rock out of my pocket. “You should not worry, Aragorn. Your people are so pleased to see me they sent this gift through my window the moment I arrived.”
“What?” He reaches across and snatches the rock from where it sits upon the palm of my hand. “Someone threw this through your window? In the Palace?” Instantly I regret my teasing. He is wound tight as a clock about this.
“It is only a rock, Aragorn, and a badly aimed one at that. They missed me by a mile.” I grin to show him I, myself, am not remotely worried about this. “So you have one problematic Lord. You have dealt with far worse, and there have always been those in the city who do not particularly welcome the presence of Elves. This Lord ‘Whatever his name is’ just exploits that.” I wave my hand in the air to distract from the fact I cannot for the life of me remember his name.
“Aderthron.” Aragorn helpfully fills in the gaps for me. “How do you know about him?”
“Daegal filled me in. He does not like him and I trust his judgement.”
“You can trust your own judgement.” Aragorn says, “You have met him before and you disliked him on sight.”
“Did I?” That is surprising. “Well there are so many of them I do not particularly like, Aragorn. You can not expect me to remember all their names!”
“How did you manage remembering the names of Thranduil’s council? I assume you had to do that.”
“Because I had known them all since childhood Aragorn! Believe me there were plenty there I did not like either, and of course, their names were Sindarin.”
“As are most of ours!” He throws his hands in the air and gives up then. It is so enjoyable when I manage to best him. Still he looks tired. He worries too much. It has always been one of his weaknesses.
“Why do you let this obnoxious Lord get to you?”
“You do not take this seriously enough Legolas. There are others adding weight to his words. He undermines me even with —” He cuts himself short as if he thinks better of informing me.
“No matter. The fact someone has been audacious enough to throw a rock through your window should tell you things are becoming out of my control.”
“Then regain control!” He confuses me. He has never been squeamish about exhorting his authority before.
“I am trying!”
Discussing this is not getting us anywhere . . . I am certainly not improving his mood and I feel he is determined to give me only half the story which irritates me. Perhaps I would better talking to Arwen about this? She may be more forthcoming. Instead I try to change the subject to something more pleasant.
“How is Eldarion? What is it he has done wrong now?”
“Why do you say he has done wrong?” Instantly Aragorn is on the defensive. A bad choice of topic then . . . Honestly, he is so prickly today it is a nightmare conversing with him.
“There is no secret plot against you Aragorn. Daegal did not seem pleased with him when I enquired and so I assumed there had been some trouble. That is all.”
And before my eyes he collapses. Dejected he slides down into his chair, holding head in his hands.
“Eldarion is the cause of most it,” he says.
“The cause of most of what? Honestly you are too hard on him sometimes, Aragorn. I know Gimli accuses me of being soft but it is hard being a Prince. I should know. So he tests you occasionally . . . They are only minor indiscretions for the most part. Elrohir will be here soon. He will sort him out for you. Eldarion always listens to him . . . If he will not listen to me.”
But when he lifts his head to look at me there is real grief in his eyes.
“It is Eldarion who adds weight to Aderthron’s words.” He says tiredly. “He is dazzled by him. He encourages his friends, all those young men, to listen to him, to follow him. Ears of people who normally would not listen turn Aderthron’s way because the Prince agrees with him. Eldarion will not hear me when I try to explain the weight of his influence with others, he will not listen when I describe the poison this man spreads . . And the consequences of that. Aderthron has targeted him from the beginning and I am losing him.”
“You will not lose him, Aragorn. He is not a fool. I will speak with him for you.”
“I do not think that will go well, Legolas.”
“When has Eldarion not listened to me, truly?” I wonder at Aragorn’s melodrama over this which is not like him at all. Yes it must be hurtful to have the boy listening to this odious Lord but Eldarion is a young man now, not a child to be manipulated. He knows what is right and wrong. Aragorn has bought him up well.
But I can say no more for the anxious looking guard pokes his head through the door looking for all the world as if he is frightened Aragorn will throw something at him for his troubles.
“Beg your pardon, My Lord,” He squeaks, “The Queen sends word dinner is served in your rooms.”
“Thank you.” Aragorn waves him away with a hand and the poor man cannot disappear fast enough.
“What are you doing to your guards?” I ask as I watch him dash away. “He is terrified of you!”
“It is possible my temper runs away with me.” Aragorn runs a hand through his hair and gazes after the man distractedly. “Perhaps I should apologise?”
I feel sorry for him. He lets this Lord get to him far too much. He takes Eldarion’s youthful rebellion to heart and he is tired. It seems deciding to call into Minas Tirith was an inspired decision on my behalf.
I will take the boy aside and talk with him. He loves me and he knows I love him. It will not be so hard to turn his mind from prejudice and bias. He will not be believing it anyway but I know from experience the harder you push as a father, the harder you push back as a son. I have argued black was white when angry with my own Father. Eldarion has decided being attentive to this Lord will agitate his Father and so he does so.
I wondered what Arwen is doing to remedy this?
“Come,” I say to Aragorn, “Let us go and have dinner. I am eager for Arwen’s company. Then that poor hard-done-by man guarding your door can go home and have dinner with his family. Give him the night off and make sure you smile while you do it so he does not leave here thinking you have dismissed him permanently!”
Finally he laughs!
It is not normally such hard work getting getting a smile out of Aragorn. I am positively exhausted.
“What would I do without you, Legolas?” He throws his arm about my shoulder and he smiles which makes him look so much younger, and that makes me feel better. The younger Aragorn looks the better as far as I am concerned.
“You would flounder hopelessly, your Kingdom would be taken over by rogue, abominable Lords and all your guards would either desert or collapse from sheer nervous exhaustion I would think.” I say.
The chuckle he gives at that is music to my ears. It is a start.
I have only two days to put this Kingdom to rights for I can stay no longer than that. I have missed Maewen after all.
Let us see what I can do.