Steward and the Queen, The: 11. Crowning

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11. Crowning

They rode side by side, Arwen back on Asfaloth, up the long avenue to the Citadel between happily cheering crowds who threw flowers in their path. Once again Aragorn had proved he understood their people better than she did, Arwen reflected wryly. Given the endless hours spent agonizing over precedence and protocol she would have expected the Gondorim to be offended by their flagrant breach of decorum. - instead it had delighted them, and Aragorn had known it would. His emotion had been genuine yet he had also, quite deliberately, used his lovers’ greeting to his wife to break the spell of awe he had cast upon his new subjects.

“The City looks wonderful,” her husband said quietly, “how did you manage it?”

“Whitewash and carefully hung banners.” she answered wryly. “Don’t look too closely!”

“I won’t.” he promised, amused.

Arwen looked around, for the first time taking note of who was riding with them - and who was missing. Eomer and Imrahil were there, and Gandalf and Gimli, and the twenty-six surviving Northern Rangers with Halladan carrying her banner but - “Where is Frodo?” she asked. The Ringbearer had been meant to ride at the King’s side

“Back among the guard.” Aragorn answered quietly. “He begged off, said he didn’t feel up to being put on show. And the other three insisted on staying with him. Merry and Pippin have barely stirred a step away from him and Sam since they awoke.”

Arwen nodded. “Who can blame them? They must have feared they’d never see either again.” then she asked the next question: “Where are Legolas and my brothers?”

“I have no idea.” Aragorn answered ruefully. “They rode off this morning just before dawn leaving word they’d be back before the day was over.”

“That’s odd.” Arwen wondered what her brothers and their friend might be up to, but did not worry. There was no trouble they could get into now - she hoped!

The winding avenue was dotted with pageants; tableaus with elaborate sets, richly costumed actors and choruses of singers to explain their meaning in rather bad Quenyan verse. There was Earendil, a white jewel upon his brow and winged Elwing at his side, standing in the bow of Vingelote; Elros Tar-Minyatur enthroned upon the Mountain of Numenor with the star shining above him; Elendil landing on the shores of Middle-Earth; Isildur and Anarion enthroned side by side beneath the starry dome of Osgilliath; The Last Alliance with actors representing Gil-Galad and Arwen’s own father as well as Elendil and his sons; and - rather daringly - a representation of Aragorn’s descent from Anarion with Firiel and her husband Arvedui prominently featured.

Eowyn of Rohan rode beside her brother immediately behind the King and Queen. Seeing Aragorn again had not proved as painful as she had feared, yet still she was troubled. His ardent greeting of his Queen had inspired an emotion she was reluctant to acknowledge as jealousy. Arwen was dear to her, and much better suited to the Lord Aragorn than she ever could be - and there was Faramir. It could not be jealousy - it must not be. She looked across her brother to her betrothed for reassurance.

She caught his eye and Faramir gave her a smile that warmed her clear to her toes. She smiled back, happy again. Loving Aragorn had hurt; loving Faramir felt wonderful. That alone should tell her which was right. Then she looked at Eomer, saw his frowning puzzlement, and laughed out loud. He had yet to hear their news and this was not the time or place to tell him. Perhaps at the feast later.

As many people as possible from every quarter of Gondor and from Rohan too, lords and commons both, had been invited to witness the crowning of the King before the Hall of his ancestors. The court of the Tree and the long buttress were packed solid with Men and Women dressed in their colorful best and glittering with jewels. A broad aisle from the entrance stair to the foot of the Hall steps had been left open, lined with Citadel guards. And two sets of honor guards stood beneath the two towering statues flanking the stair; one with the King’s crown, the other with the Queen’s.

Frodo had been meant to carry Aragorn’s crown but seemingly he had begged off that too, it was Gimli who took the heavily embroidered cushion on which it rested. Arwen had given Idril the honor of carrying the Queen’s crown. She carefully removed her Elven diadem and gave it to Laebeth to keep, while Aragorn did off the Elendilmir and entrusted it to Elledhir, the eldest of his Rangers. Then Gandalf led a much reduced procession to the Hall steps: Just Aragorn and Arwen, followed by Gimli and Idril with the crowns, and finally by a double file Northern Rangers. The rest of their following found themselves places at the forefront of the assembled crowd.

Gandalf mounted the steps to the great doors Aragorn and Gimli followed him but Arwen and Idril remained at the foot of the steps, awaiting their turn. Aragorn knelt at the wizard’s feet and Gimli presented the crown. Gandalf held it high for all to see, then lowered it gently onto Aragorn’s bowed head.

“Now begin the days of the King!” the wizard said and smiled. “May they be blessed.”

Aragorn rose and Arwen saw him draw a deep breath before he turned to face the applause of his people. After a moment he raised his hands and they fell silent. “This day does not belong to one man but to all.” said the new King. “Let us together rebuild this world that we may share in the days of peace.”

The people cheered again and Aragorn looked at down at Arwen. She smiled a little tremulously, tears of pride glistening on her cheeks. He was magnificent; venerable and yet in the full flower of manhood. Wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light shone about him.

A sharp nudge recalled her abruptly to herself: “Arwen!” Idril whispered, voice quivering with suppressed laughter, “this is not the time for daydreaming!”

Blushing she lifted her skirts and climbed the Hall steps to kneel at her husband’s feet. Gimli made way for Idril and she offered Aragorn the Queen’s crown: a circlet of mithril with four rayed golden crests emblazoned with the White Tree above the brow and three star shaped flowers of the Tree. Aragorn placed this gently upon her head, then raised and kissed her - with decorous brevity this time!. As she turned to accept the cheers of the crowd a shower of white petals fluttered down upon the steps, bringing with them a sweet jumble of perfumes.

Aragorn, Gimli and Gandalf smiled in delight and surprise, while Arwen exchanged a look and sigh of relief with Idril. The children stationed in the gallery above the doors had remembered their instructions to scatter handfuls rather than dumping their baskets.

As the last petals fell the new King began to sing. Eowyn, remembering Arwen’s song, looked questioningly at Faramir beside her. “Is he casting a spell?”

Her betrothed shook his head. “No.” softly he repeated the strange words: “’Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta.’” then translated: “’Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.’ They are the words Elendil spoke when he came up out of the sea, on the wings of the storm, to land upon this Hither Shore.”

Aragorn took Arwen’s hand, together they descended the steps and walked down the long aisle towards the tunnel stair, returning the smiles and bows of the people as they went. They passed Hurin and Laebeth, with their four sons and daughter clustered around them; Imrahil and Fanuilos, both crowned with sea pearls; Eowyn and Faramir, standing close together; and Eomer looking solemn and perhaps not entirely comfortable in his new dignity. Then Arwen saw Legolas standing in the aisle before them, clad all in Elven white with a princely circlet upon his brow. And she saw her brothers right behind him, and behind them what seemed to be a crowd of Elves.

Aragorn smiled and reached out to clasp Legolas’ shoulder. “Hanne le.” ‘Thank you’ he said.

Legolas smiled back, eyes dancing mischief, and nodded backwards. Arwen looked at her brothers and they parted to reveal Elrond, robed in festive finery and smiling. “Am I too late to offer a father’s blessing?” he asked

Arwen gasped, gulped, dropped Aragorn’s hand and threw herself into her father’s arms. “Papa! Oh, Papa, I’m so sorry, so sorry.!” she sobbed onto his shoulder. “But I had to get to Aragorn, I *had* to! Forgive me, forgive me!”

“It is you who must forgive me, Daughter.” Elrond said softly into her ear. “The fault was all mine, for driving you to such lengths. You have made your choice and I was wrong to oppose you. I am sorry.” he kissed her and let her go, turning to Aragorn.

They stood looking at each other a moment, then embraced as father and son should. “It was only that I didn’t want to lose my daughter.” Elrond said, voice choked with emotion. “Never that I thought you unworthy of her, my dearest son.”

“I know, Father, I know.” Aragorn husked in answer.

The watching throng of Gondorim and Rohirrim had no idea who this tall Elven lord might be but plainly he was somebody the King and Queen were glad to see and so they cheered him with good will.

But Eowyn laughed, with tears in her eyes, as she clapped. Faramir looked down at her curiously. “Do you know who this is?”

She nodded vehemently. “It is her father, he has forgiven her for running away to the Lord Aragorn against his wishes.” she sighed happily. “I am so glad for her, she has been grieving over it.”

So this was Elrond Halfelven, son of Earendil and Elwing and twin brother to Elros Tar-Minyatur, Faramir looked at him with wonder and some awe. What knowledge, what memories he must have! Reaching back even to the First Age of the World. Faramir promised himself he would make an opportunity to speak with the Queen‘s father, more than one if he could manage it!

Elrond had seemingly brought half of Rivendell with him - though how they came to be here when they should have been in Mithlond or already taken ship Arwen couldn’t think. As she and Aragorn continued their walk the crowd of mingled Elves and Men opened with some difficulty before them, then closed behind. Suddenly their parting revealed the four Hobbits, standing in a row, dressed simply in Hobbit style garments.

They began to bow but Aragorn forestalled them: “My friends, you bow to no one.” And then he knelt in tribute to the Ringbearers, and Arwen knelt beside him as their people sank to the ground around them. Watching from under her lowered lashes she saw Merry and Pippin’s initial pleasure and excitement give way to uneasiness as the moment lengthened. Poor Sam looked as if he was wishing himself back on Mount Doom, and Frodo - Frodo looked dismayed, even distressed.

After an endless time, when nobody moved, he finally realized it was up to him to end it. “Aragorn, please, get up!” The King smiled and rose, and Arwen and all the rest of the throng followed suit. The four Hobbits breathed visible sighs of relief. “Don’t you ever do that to me again!” Frodo scolded.

Aragorn laughed gently. “I will not, if you do not try to bow to me again! And that goes for you too, Samwise Gamgee!”

“What about Merry and me?” Pippin piped up curiously.

“You two are knights of Rohan and Gondor and my liege Hobbits. You may do the King reverence in public ceremony - but your friend Strider will take it amiss if you do so in private!”

Arwen stepped forward to embrace and kiss the Ringbearers, first Frodo, then Sam - who blushed cherry red at the attention. “I am gladder than I can say to see you both safe and well!” she said. “Aragorn didn’t mean to embarrass you, Frodo but you and Sam have done a great deed - and as King it is his duty to honor you for it.”

It seemed to her a flicker of something - pain perhaps, or guilt - flashed over Frodo’s face but was gone so quickly she wondered if she’d imagined it. “I understand.” he said quietly, then suddenly grinned up at Aragorn. “Mind you, Sam deserves any honor you care to do him, my Lord King!”

Poor Sam went even redder and muttered something inarticulate. Aragorn laughed. “Come then, I would have the Ringbearers ride beside me as I show myself to my people.”

Frodo hesitated a moment, then smiled wryly. “Why not? Nobody’s going to pay two little Hobbits any mind when they’ve got you and Lady Arwen to look at.”

And so when the procession reformed the King rode with the Ringbearer upon a pony at his right hand, and the Ringbearer’s squire at his left. Arwen followed flanked by Merry and Pippin.

“I wish now we’d worn our armor and things.” The young Took remarked, waving to the cheering crowds.

“Fame such as yours needs no trappings, Sir Peregrin Troll’s Bane.” Arwen told him.

He blushed, though not as brightly as Sam. “My folks will never believe it.”

“*I* don’t believe it!” said Merry. “What came over you, Pip?”

“I don‘t know.” his cousin said, a little helplessly. “I didn’t think at all, I just saw the Troll all hunched over poor Strider and the next thing I knew I’d run up its back, stabbed it in the neck and down it went!”

“You saved my husband’s life, Sir Peregrin, I must think of some way to show you my gratitude.” Arwen said solemnly.

“That’s really not necessary, m’Lady,” Pippin assured her as seriously, “Strider’s my friend, I was glad to do it.” then he grinned. “Besides I had to do *something* to draw level with old Merry - you Nazgul-bane you!”

“And Sam killed a giant spider.” said Merry, shaking his head in wonder. “A regular set of monster banes the three of us! Who’d have believed it?”

“I would have.” said Arwen. “And so would anybody else who knows Bilbo Baggins.”

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.

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/14/04

Original Post: 10/08/04

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