“You are not Legolas!” exclaimed Arwen in surprise when she went to wake her son the next morning only to be greeted by a dishevelled Faramir rather than the elf she was expecting to see.
“Obviously not, my Queen, but neither am I in Eldarion’s bad graces,” replied the Steward as he rose and offered Arwen the bedside chair in which he had spent most of the night. Arwen understood the subtle explanation and sighed with exasperation.
“How are you feeling this morning, my sweet one,” she asked as she bent to kiss her son’s brow. A small hand reached up to touch her cheek and Aragorn’s eyes smiled at her.
“My arm does not hurt much any more, Mother. Maybe it is already healed?” Eldarion replied sleepily only just having awoken on hearing his mother’s voice, his hopeful smile turning into a wince of pain as he tried to move the injured limb.
“The healer did say it would be many weeks before the bone is set,” Arwen reminded her son sympathetically as she helped him to sit up and carefully placed a pillow beneath the broken arm to give it added support
“Only four or five, and that is why Legolas is mean,” the child declared as he recalled his anger at the elf. Arwen raised her eyebrow in surprise, finding it difficult to envisage her gentle friend as ‘mean’. “I told him to go away because I do not like him any more, and he did!” declared the child triumphantly, his anger with his friend not having lessened overnight.
“Oh Eldarion, how could you say something so cruel? Legolas loves you almost as if you were his own son,” Arwen said sadly. “Besides which, you should not speak to your elders with such disrespect.” It was a gentle reprimand in response to which the child merely scowled. Lately it seemed to Arwen that her usually sweet natured son had become the most unreasonable of beings and she was finding his attitude tiresome. “Will you tell me what has he done to displease you?”
“He will not wait until I am better,” replied Eldarion crossly as if that explained everything. It did not and Arwen cast a confused glance at Faramir, hoping he would know the answer.
“As I understand the problem, Legolas refused to delay the children’s archery tournament until Eldarion’s arm is healed, and the young Prince seems to consider this decision to be most unfair,” he told her diplomatically, keeping his opinion on the matter to himself, for he fully supported the elf’s stance.
“I see,” she said turning her attention back to Eldarion. “Do you really think it fair to be annoyed with Legolas? After all, he has the feelings of the other boys in the class to consider as well?” she pointed out. Arwen knew how much the child had been looking forward to taking part in the contest and showing off his skills, and was not surprised when his eyes filled with tears of frustration.
“I am the King’s son and he should do as I say!” Eldarion declared.
.“Legolas is one of my closest friends and the leader of our elvish allies in Ithilien, and as such is not under my rule! Even if he were, you can hardly expect anyone to do as you command when you blatantly disobey me as soon as I leave the city.” Aragorn said sternly as he strode into the room, sparing a moment for a welcome home hug and kiss for Arwen before addressing his errant son, his eyes flashing with anger
“I am sorry for breaking my promise to you, father,” sobbed Eldarion, doing his best to look repentant. Although she wanted nothing more than to hold her son, Arwen knew that now was not the time. She moved aside to allow Aragorn to take her place by the bed.
“I can see that you are, but that does not change the fact that you must live with the consequences of your disobedience. While I help you bathe and dress, I will ask Faramir if he will be so obliging as to find Legolas and invite him to take the morning meal with us in the private dining room. When Legolas arrives, if he chooses to do so, of course, you will apologise for sending him away so cruelly,” said Aragorn, tousling the boy’s hair to take the sting from his sternly spoken words. He truly considered it punishment enough that Eldarion would be unable to compete against his friends. He turned to Faramir who silently accepted the task with a slight bow before taking his leave.
“Will you ask him to delay the contest if I apologise?” Eldarion asked hopefully.
“Nay. I will not. His decision in that regard is final and has my full support. I expect you to make amends with Legolas because it is the proper course of behaviour and because I know you do not really dislike him,” replied Aragorn with an exasperated sigh. He looked to Arwen for guidance but she merely shrugged her shoulders helplessly, indicating she was also at a loss as to how to make the child behave in a more acceptable manner.
Faramir had come to know Legolas well as both a warrior and a ruler, and once he discovered that the elf’s bed had not been slept in, he knew immediately where he would be found. It was a long climb to the top of the white tower, but his efforts were rewarded as the sound of a sweet voice raised in song to welcome the dawn drifted on the light breeze. The steward stood in the doorway at the top of the stairs and having no desire to bring the song to an early end, waited patiently until the last note was sung.
Legolas was facing away from the city, his eyes fixed on the river in the distance but he had sensed Faramir’s approach and without turning spoke softly to his friend.
“The way Anor’s brightness is reflected from the ripples in the water as the current drives it seaward reminds me of the flashes of sunlight on the steel of swords that were once raised in readiness to do battle,” he said.
“I can not see that far into the distance, and to me those days of which you speak happened long ago,” replied Faramir as he moved to stand beside the elf who was sitting atop the stone wall.
“For me it ‘twas only yesterday,” said Legolas, his voice tinged with sadness as he recalled the lives that were lost during the War and those that were changed forever in its aftermath, his own included. “How fares Eldarion this morning?”
“He is well and although his injury still pains him a little, the child is in better spirits now that Aragorn has returned early, I was not expecting him until late this afternoon.”
“No doubt he sensed something amiss with his son, and hastened to his side. Now that he is here it is likely his healing skills will be put to good use and Eldarion’s injury will heal quickly and be as quickly forgotten,” said Legolas with a small sigh of relief. He hated to see the child he adored suffering.
“And what of yours?” Legolas raised an eyebrow in silent query. “I see in your eyes that your heart remains troubled, but do mot let it. Eldarion did not mean what he said to you,” Faramir said, with a warm smile and a conspiratorial wink and amazing Legolas with his perceptive abilities.
“Sometimes I almost believe you to be part elf, Faramir, for you have an uncanny ability to see the inner being as we do.”
“Thank you, that is high praise indeed,” the steward said, grinning with genuine pleasure. “It is this perceptiveness that leads me to believe that Eldarion will apologise profusely when you join him and the King and Queen for the morning meal,” he added deliberately omitting the fact that Aragorn had already insisted Eldarion do so.
“A subtle yet welcome invitation which I will gladly accept. It has been many months since I last spoke with Aragorn,” the elf said his eyes alight with eager anticipation at the prospect. He jumped lithely from the wall and made his way quickly to the stairwell. Faramir knew he had no hope of keeping pace with the elegant swiftness of his friend and chose instead to simply call after the disappearing figure, knowing his words would be easily heard by elvish ears.
“They are expecting you in the private dining room.”