Aragorn’s solitude was only too short. Already he could hear the pound of feet on the tower stairs. Slowly he stretched out his hand and gently closed the sightless eyes. Then gathering Legolas in his arms he turned to face those emerging from the stairwell.
The first he saw was Faramir. The Steward gave a small gasp as he saw what the King held, then raised his eyes to meet Aragorn’s. “My Lord - is it true?”
Aragorn gave a short, helpless shake of his head and moved past Faramir to the door. Two guards moved aside. Silently Aragorn descended the steps, slowly, suddenly feeling all the weight of his long years. The Elf’s body felt light and insubstantial in his arms, belying the strength and resilience inside.
At the foot of the stairs he gently laid Legolas on a long table in the hall. Turning to Faramir he finally spoke. “He saved Eldarion’s life. And mine.”
“I met Eldarion. He said something had happened up there. I sent him to find his mother and Gimli.” With that, a door beside them was flung open and Arwen and Gimli entered in some haste, followed very slowly by Eldarion, who kept his head turned away from the table. Faramir went to the boy and drew him to one side.
Arwen’s gaze went first to Aragorn as if to reassure herself that he was safe, then moved to Legolas. She gave a soft cry of dismay and gently reached out her hand to touch his cold face tenderly. Her fingertips barely brushing the skin, she traced every line and feature, mouth, throat, eyes. She ran her fingers along the side of his face, following the outline of his ears and caressing the delicately pointed tips. Then, leaning forward she kissed him gently and stroked his hair, now limp and still damp from the rain.
Aragorn found himself watching Gimli. The Dwarf took a few faltering steps towards the table, his gaze never leaving his friend’s face. There was nothing of the anguished roar of grief that Aragorn expected, just this unblinking stare from eyes as hard as stone. His stillness somehow conveyed his emotions far more effectively than the anticipated howls of rage and sorrow.
Finally rousing himself from his stupor, Aragorn touched Arwen gently on the shoulder. She turned to him, and he cupped her face in his hands, brushing away with his thumb a tear that threatened to escape. Then she sighed, lowering her head to rest on his shoulder as his arms encircled her. “I’m sorry, my love” he murmured against her hair, their mutual grief so intense they seemed afire with pain. They stood together, immobile.
A loud thud, a stir of air and a click roused him again. Gimli had turned abruptly and gone into the night through a door into the gardens. His axe still quivered, buried deep in one of the heavy logs that lay next to the fireplace. He was about to follow, then stopped. Gimli would be better on his own. Aragorn understood only too well his need to be alone at the moment, alone with his memories.
He turned at the sound of soft footsteps behind him. “Aragorn?”
“Faramir. Thank you for looking after Eldarion. Where is he?”
“With Éowyn. She’s trying to get him to rest. He thinks this is his fault.”
Aragorn swore softly. He should have foreseen this. “I will talk to him.”
“In the morning. He will be asleep soon if I know Éowyn. My Lord, my Lady - you must decide on…. arrangements.” He spoke hesitantly, his own sorrow clear on his face. Aragorn looked again at Legolas’ pale, still features.
“Yes. He will be taken to the House of the Kings tonight. He saved the life of my son - he will be honoured. And I must send a messenger to his father in Mirkwood. Faramir, will you take word back to Ithilien?”
Faramir nodded, but before he could reply another voice spoke gruffly behind them.
“And I will go to Mirkwood to tell Thranduil.”
Both Aragorn and Arwen turned. Gimli had returned silently and stood beside Legolas. Rain pearled on his hair and beard, but he was not as wet as they expected. Aragorn looked at him in concern. “Are you all right, my friend?”
Gimli only gave a curt nod. Aragorn was far from convinced, but knew better than to press the issue. He went on: “I will stand vigil in Rath Dinen tonight. Will you join me?”
Gimli nodded again. “Yes. We will both be with him tonight. And tomorrow?”
“He is a great hero of this city. He will be laid to rest in the Tomb of the Kings.”
Faramir looked a little surprised, but approved wholeheartedly. It was an honour never paid to anyone other than the Stewards in his family, and, in ancient history, the Kings themselves.
Four guards appeared then bearing a bier. Gently Legolas was moved onto it and covered with a richly embroidered cloth. “My Lord, are you ready?” questioned one of the guards. Aragorn realised it was Mardil, Mihal’s father, and that it was the second time he had asked the question. He tore his eyes from the covered bier.
“Yes. Faramir? Gimli? Come.” The small procession set off. Faramir was at the head in his official capacity as Steward. He was followed by the four guards bearing the bier. Aragorn, Gimli and Arwen walked behind. They left the hall and wound slowly through the streets. The storm was over now but it was late and the streets were deserted. Rain pooled on the flagstones under their feet and from somewhere came an incessant drip, drip of water seeping through a broken gutter. The wind had dropped to a gentle breeze. It carried the scent of the clean, rain-washed hills and forests. Overhead the sky was clearing and a thin moon danced between the gaps in the scudding clouds.
They went on through the citadel gate where the sentinel stared at them in wonder and dismay as they passed by. Turning westward they came at length to a door in the rearward wall of the sixth circle. Their slow feet echoed as they walked down, down, until at last they came to the Silent Street, Rath Dinen. In the House of the Kings a stone table lay, and the bier was placed on this. The guards were dismissed and Aragorn and Arwen bade farewell. She was to return to their tower with Faramir for the sake of Eldarion and Ithilia, but they would return for the funeral rites the next day. As Faramir was about to leave, Aragorn called him back. “Open all the shutters here. And do not close the door when you leave. He - he would not want to be shut in.”
Faramir obeyed, then he and Arwen left quietly, leaving the place in darkness apart from two small torches at the ends of the catafalque. Aragorn and Gimli each took position at the head and foot. Gimli’s axe stood on the floor, the blade between his feet, his hands clasped on the top of the upright haft. They stood motionless, lost in thought, staring outwards, while apart from the soft night sounds outside, silence drifted slowly back like dust.
To be continued….
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.