Disclaimer: Only unknown characters are mine. Nothing else belongs to me, not even the plot, which is courtesy of Lady Osolone. The fic is dedicated to her.

Author's Notes: This piece is set post-ROTK. Special thanks goes to Liadon for the beta.

Reminder: Sindarin is written in between square brackets i.e. [ ] Quenya is written in between { }

In Your Image

Chapter 7 - The Confrontation

By Menel


King Elessar sat at a corner table staring intently at the grilled sausage and eggs on his plate. He had no appetite, despite the delicious aroma of sausage that wafted to his nose, causing his stomach to grumble. He picked up his fork and turned it absently in his hand.

“Staring at your food won’t make it disappear,” a voice lightly chided from above.

The King looked up just in time to see his son take the seat in front him. Eldarion was beaming and Elessar knew it was not simply because he had won an archery competition. It took all his willpower to smile warmly at his son.

“You are up early today,” he commented conversationally.

“On the contrary,” Eldarion replied. “I am a little later than usual,” he said, indicating the already bustling breakfast hall.

“Well,” Aragorn went on, “we are all entitled to late mornings after such eventful nights.”

“Yes,” the Prince agreed, grinning sheepishly. “I admit I did not pay attention to my drinking last night. I believe I may have overdone it a little.”

The King could not help but laugh at his son’s understatement. “Be honest,” he said. “Did Gimli talk you into it?”

Eldarion’s grin widened. “No,” he confessed. “It was entirely my idea.”

Aragorn shook his head. “Then you got what you deserved.”

There was a comfortable silence between them as they began to eat their breakfast. Aragorn had given in to his grumbling stomach and tasted the sausage. He hoped that eating would distract him from all the terrible thoughts that kept entering his mind.

“Why are you sitting here by yourself, Father?” Eldarion suddenly asked. “This is not our usual table. It is so secluded from everyone else.”

“You have answered your own question,” the King replied.

The Prince nodded. He understood the desire for privacy all too well.

Elessar studied his son for a moment. He radiated exuberance and life. Did the Prince not have every reason to be happy? *Every reason,* Aragorn repeated to himself. *Especially the one most out of my reach.* He looked down at his plate again. Although he had dwelt on his discovery since the time he had stood outside his son’s door, he found that he still could not think rationally about it. Could the mind ever be rational when it came to matters of the heart?

The King looked up again. There was so much he wanted to know, but could he open such a subject? *It is best to let them come to you,* a voice told him. *When they are ready.*

“Tell me, Eldarion,” he heard himself say, while his mind screamed at him to stop this conversation before he would regret it.

The Prince looked up expectantly.

“You look remarkably well for someone who may have ‘overdone’ it a little last night. Have you suffered no ill effects from your excesses?”

Eldarion smiled. “Ah, I have our Elvish friends to thank for that,” he replied.

“Yes,” Elessar nodded. “I noticed that you left in the company of Legolas and Onela.”

The Prince grinned sheepishly once more. Sometimes he wished his father weren’t so observant.

“They were kind enough to help me return to my chambers,” he explained.

“Surely that was not all they assisted you with?” the King asked, skillfully directing his questions to his desired goal.

“As a matter of fact, no,” Eldarion answered carefully. “Onela made a tonic for me from the witchroot.”

“The old witchroot remedy,” Aragorn chuckled. “It certainly works, but it has a foul taste.”

Eldarion concurred, a strange smile on his face. “It also depends upon how one takes it,” he said, rather cryptically.

“Quickly,” Aragorn suggested, not wishing to know what thoughts were in his son’s mind at that moment. “You have spent a great deal of time with Onela,” he continued.

“Yes,” Eldarion agreed. “I suppose I have.”

“Do you enjoy her company?”

“Very much so. She has been groomed according to the highest standards of etiquette and noble birth, yet she is completely unlike any of the ladies at court.”

“That is high praise indeed. You seem to be quite taken by her.”

“I am,” the Prince replied enthusiastically. Then he paused, his father’s line of questioning becoming clear to him.

“Do you prefer her company to that of Lady Eleanor’s?”

“Yes, I do,” Eldarion replied slowly, his father’s last question reinforcing his fears.

“Enough to begin formally courting her?”

The Prince leaned forward. “Father,” he said, “you know that I do not wish to be pushed into marriage.”

“No one wishes to be pushed into marriage,” Aragorn replied smoothly. “But one must always keep one’s options open. In our station, more often than not, it is a blessing to be able to marry someone you *love*,” he said, emphasizing his final word.

Eldarion’s eyes darkened. He now knew his father’s past. Was the King mocking his own marriage with his words? The Prince would not stand for it. He would not see his mother hurt.

“I do not love Princess Onela,” he told his father evenly.

“You may grow to love her.”

“I shall never love her in that way,” Eldarion insisted, growing agitated.

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because I love someone else!”

A steely silence followed the Prince’s confession. Aragorn sat back in his chair, his resolute gaze holding his son firmly in place. Eldarion returned his father’s look unwaveringly.

“Whom then, do you love?”

The Prince refused to answer. It did not matter now. His father had found out somehow and was simply baiting him with his interrogative skills and clever questions.

“Perhaps what you feel for him is not love,” Aragorn went on, purposely not saying the Elf’s name, “but a passing infatuation.”

“This is no mere infatuation,” Eldarion responded angrily, his voice raised. “You of all people should know that!”

“Lower your voice, Eldarion. We will finish this later.”

The Prince stood up. “We will finish this now.”

The King looked around the breakfast hall. The friendly sound of conversation and tinkling cutlery had died away. He was aware of the scene they were making. He also stood up.

“Very well,” he said quietly. “We shall go to my study.”

He smiled at his guests to assure them that nothing was amiss, briefly exchanging polite pleasantries with several lords as he led his son out of the hall. He caught the Queen’s eye as he passed her and also smiled at her reassuringly. But Arwen gazed back impassively, her attention focused on her son’s dark countenance. Aragorn sighed inwardly. He would have to discuss this with her as well and the implications of such a conversation did not bode well for either of them. But first, he would deal with his son.

The walk to the King’s study only served to increase the tension between them. The foreboding atmosphere surrounding them was palpable and all who passed them quickly stepped out of their way. Eldarion’s mind burned at the thought of his father’s insinuation, but his anger was also tempered by his fear of his father’s wrath. As soon as he stepped into the King’s study and the heavy oak door was closed securely behind him, the Prince could not contain his feelings any longer.

“I do love him, Father!” he exclaimed. “I love him like I shall never love anyone else. I know in my heart that this love is pure and true.”

The Prince watched as the King strode to his desk and sat behind it. Eldarion remembered a time when he could not look above that large oak desk and had settled for playing at its foot. When he was a child, he believed that his father had never looked more imposing than when the King sat behind his magnificent desk and stared down those before him with his unyielding gaze, as he did now. But the Prince would not flinch. Instead, he waited for his father to speak.

“Yes,” Aragorn said at last. “I believe that you love him. I believe that he loves you in return. He is too valiant an Elf to toy with your feelings so carelessly. But sometimes love is not enough.”

The Prince opened his mouth to protest, but the warning look he received quickly silenced him. It would be best to let his father speak first. That would give him time to counter the King’s arguments in what he hoped would be a rational and well-thought out line of reasoning.

“You must never forget who you are,” Aragorn began. “You are the Crown Prince of Gondor and you must bear the responsibility, duty and obligations that come with such a title.”

The Prince’s jaw clenched. The three tenets.

“And what would those be?” he asked, his anger rising despite his attempts to thwart it.

“You know very well,” the King replied evenly. “Need I remind you that you are the only one who can and must produce an heir to the throne?”

The Prince could not answer. There was no reply to give. His father’s words rang sharp and true, slicing through the Prince’s very heart. “I cannot bind myself to a loveless marriage like countless others before me. I could not live such a lie,” he said quietly. “As you have done.”

Suppressed fury raged in the King’s eyes. “Never doubt my love for your mother,” he said, his voice betraying his emotions. “The heart has the capacity for infinite love that lives on long after we have left this earth. Legolas should have taught you that.”

The mention of the Elf’s name hung heavy between them. This final acknowledgement was like a dagger being twisted in Eldarion’s soul. He looked down, unable to hold his father’s gaze any longer.

“I am not you,” he said helplessly. “Times have changed, father. You made the right decisions all those years ago, so that Gondor and Arnor would be reunited and peace was brought to the land. It is your decisions that have given me the opportunity to make my own.”

“But don’t you see, my son?” Aragorn asked gently. “You have admitted that I made the right decisions in the past. Times may have changed, but these same decisions lie before you now. You know what you must do.”

Legolas’ words from the night before entered the Prince’s mind. *Do you see how fate has come full circle?*

Eldarion shook his head. “Everything happens for a reason,” he heard himself say. His voice sounded distant and foreign to his ears. “Legolas believes that and so do I. He told me that we are all part of fate’s design and that I am here to help him heal. I choose a different path from you, Father. It is the right path for me. And Legolas will help me walk it, as he guided you so many years ago.”

The Prince dared to look up again. “He said that you love us both enough to grant us this happiness.”

Elessar remained stoic and regal in his seat. The gray eyes that had flared with anger now mirrored turbulent seas as he reflected on his son’s heartfelt words. He could hear the Elf’s wisdom speaking through them, but his mind refused to acknowledge it. It was too soon. Too sudden. Too painful. His could feel own heart being wrenched in two.

“I forbid this relationship,” he stated at last, his voice devoid of all emotion.

Eldarion could not contain the sudden rage within him. He had spoken the truth as he knew it in his heart. How could his father dismiss it with such callousness?

“Then you do so out of jealousy and spite!” he spat back, turning on his heel before his father could respond and quickly leaving the King’s study before the tears could fall from his eyes.


Legolas lay in the comfortable bath, his golden hair dangling over the marble edge where he rested his head. He knew that he was inexcusably late for breakfast, but the warmth that suffused through his limbs as the water gently massaged his body brought him greater pleasure than any meal ever could. *Gimli is right,* the Elf thought to himself absent-mindedly. *I am addicted to bathing.* The thought brought a smile to his face and he closed his eyes.

His peace was disrupted by the sound of a loud knock on the door. Legolas chose to ignore it, hoping that whoever it was would eventually grow tired and leave. *Unless it is the Dwarf,* his mind told him. The knocking continued, growing louder and more insistent as it did so. Legolas opened his eyes. *Even Gimli does not knock like this.*

“I am coming!” he called, belatedly rousing himself from the welcoming bath. His limbs protested at the effort. He grabbed the nearest towel and hastily dried himself before putting on his robe. All the while the knocking continued. *Pounding would be more accurate,* Legolas thought as he stepped into the room. “I am coming!” he called again, hoping to appease his persistent visitor.

When he opened the door, a distraught Eldarion came inside raving incoherently. Legolas quickly appraised the situation, his keen hearing picking up snatches of jumbled words, “Father . . . furious . . . forbids.”

The Elf had never seen the Prince so distressed. He closed the door and then moved to grasp the Prince by his shoulders, turning the man around to face him.

“Eldarion,” he said forcefully, doing his best to get the man’s attention. “Take a deep breath and calm yourself before speaking.”

The Prince did as he was told, sighing in defeat as he exhaled. When he was ready, he spoke.

“I don’t know how it happened,” he began. “But Father has found out about us and he forbids our relationship.” The young man proceeded to retell the events that took place in the breakfast hall and then later in the King’s study ending with, “He says that love is not enough. That in my situation I must always place duty, responsibility and obligation to my people and my kingdom above all else.”

Legolas was thoughtful as he listened to the Prince speak. The words were so familiar he could practically hear Aragorn’s voice logically stating these arguments in his mind.

When Eldarion was done, a blanket of silence fell between them. The Elf noticed that the Prince’s hands were balled into fists by his side, his nails digging deeply into the palms of his hands. Legolas ran his own hands down the Prince’s arms until he took the man’s hands in his own, unwinding the tightly fisted fingers, massaging them as he did so.

Eldarion could not stand the silence. “Have you nothing to say?” he asked, watching as the Elf soothed the red marks on his hands. More silence. “Do you not care?” he demanded.

“Of course, I care.”

“Then how can you remain so calm?” the Prince cried.

“I am an Elf.”

Eldarion was dumbfounded by the reply. Legolas continued to watch him with his inscrutable gaze, a picture of perfect composure. The Prince broke into a grin despite himself. He shook his head. Legolas always knew how to diffuse a situation.

The Elf smiled slightly, taking the Prince into his arms. Eldarion gratefully accepted the comforting embrace, wrapping his own arms tightly around the Elf. He could feel Legolas smoothing the tangles in his hair as he nestled his head in the crook of the Elf’s neck.

“Things could be worse,” Legolas said quietly.

“I don’t see how,” Eldarion murmured.

“*My* father could have found out about us.”

The Prince shook with gentle laughter.

It was during this moment of intimacy that the King found them. Elessar knew that he had to speak to Legolas as soon as possible and so had made his way to the Elf’s chambers, suspecting that the Elf might still be there. It was the morning of unlocked bedroom doors and the King had entered without so much as a second thought. He grimly looked at the sight that greeted him.

Eldarion could feel his father’s presence rather than see it, his head still nestled in the Elf’s neck. Acutely aware of the situation, he grew tense and made to move away, but Legolas would not release him, instead holding him more firmly in place. The Elf’s silent assurance was contagious and Eldarion relaxed, feeling the warmth of the Elf’s body infuse his own.

The Elf held the young Prince protectively as his eyes met Aragorn’s. There was no mistaking the accusation that lay in the King’s sea-gray depths.

“It is customary to knock before entering a bedroom,” Legolas said lightly.

“Forgive my intrusion,” Aragorn replied, “but I must speak with you. At once,” he added.

The Elf nodded imperceptibly. “I shall need a moment to change,” he replied, releasing the Prince.

Instantly, Eldarion missed the Elf’s embrace and he looked at Legolas with worried eyes.

“[It will be all right],” the Elf whispered.

From anyone else, those words of reassurance would have rung hollow in the Prince’s ears. But coming from Legolas, he could almost believe them and he smiled faintly in return. The Elf went into the bathroom to change and for a moment Eldarion thought he would collapse without Legolas to support him. He went to the bed, grateful that it was only a few short paces away and sat down gingerly. He could feel his father watching his every move, but he could not bear to look at the King.

Father and son waited in the Elf’s chambers, not one word passing between them. The Prince could feel a chill in the air and he knew that it was not from the wind outside. He wished Legolas would come out of the bathroom soon.

Long minutes passed and at last the Elf joined them once more. He immediately went to the Prince, ignoring the King’s presence for the moment. Eldarion rose to meet him. His fear and apprehension had returned full force during the Elf’s absence. He curbed the urge to hold Legolas and never let him go. Instead, he smiled nervously as the Elf held his hands again and began speaking quietly.

“I will speak to your father now. You may stay here if you wish, until I come back.”

Eldarion nodded. He did not have the energy to go anywhere else. He leaned in to kiss the Elf, but Legolas moved slightly, kissing the Prince on the forehead instead. Although disappointed, Eldarion understood and he stole a quick glance at his father out of the corner of his eye. The King stood waiting with his arms crossed, watching the lovers with such intensity that Eldarion could almost feel them physically being torn apart.

With one final smile, the Elf moved away and elegantly walked to the door, waiting for the King to join him. Elessar stepped outside and Legolas closed the door behind them. Left by himself the Prince gave in to his fatigue and collapsed on top of the Elf’s bed. He was still fully clothed but found that he did not even have the strength to reach down and remove his boots. His limbs had grown impossibly heavy. Instead, he buried his head in one of Legolas’ soft pillows, allowing the scent of the Elf to surround him. He closed his eyes. Sleep. He just needed a little sleep. And when he woke up, Legolas would be there to kiss this terrible nightmare away.


The King and the Elf walked side by side in silence.

“Shall we go to your study?” the Elf asked at last.

“No,” Elessar replied, purposely turning left and leading them away from the busier halls. “There is a small, private practice range near my bedchambers. I would prefer to go there.”

The Elf looked at the King. “The jousting tournament will begin in a little over an hour,” he said. “Your presence is required. Eomer, in particular, would be grievously offended should you not be there. Do we really have time for this?”

“Yes,” Aragorn replied, determinedly.

Legolas accepted the bow and quiver the King offered him, running his hand carefully over the bow’s smooth arch. While it was not as finely crafted as his own, it still bore the mark of remarkable craftsmanship.

“I would have brought my own bow and quiver if I had known we were coming here,” he told the King as they moved to take their places.

“I am glad that you did not,” Aragorn answered. “It evens the odds a little to have you use one of our ‘inferior’ bows. I may even stand a chance against you today.”

“The true skill of an archer can never be hidden by the tools of a lesser trade.”

Elessar smiled to himself as he released his first arrow. It had always been so easy to slip into friendly banter with the Elf. His arrow hit the target. A bull’s-eye. He turned to the Elf expectantly. Legolas took up the challenge and released his own arrow. Another bull’s-eye.

The two companions were soon deep in concentration, firing arrow after arrow into the air. After a few rounds, they paused to appreciate their efforts. Both targets were riddled with arrows, nearly all of which were in the red bull’s-eye, although the Elf’s arrows were more tightly packed than the King’s.

Aragorn looked at the targets appreciatively. It had been too long since he had last picked up a bow and arrow for reasons other than battle. He glanced sideways at the Elf. Even Legolas seemed pleased with the archery practice. The King missed the Elf’s companionship. He knew now that that was the most he could ever hope to receive from Legolas.

The King sighed in resignation. It was time to open the difficult subject that they had both been consciously avoiding. He could feel the Elf watching him, waiting for him to speak.

“How long?” Aragorn asked simply.

“Since the night of the archery competition.”

Elessar nodded thoughtfully, a peculiar feeling of relief washing over him. He was unsure whether or not he even had the right to feel betrayed, for what had he ever promised the Elf? And yet, the knowledge that his son’s relationship with Legolas had only recently become intimate comforted him. He was reassured that the friendship and bond he had seen develop between the two over the course of several months had not been some elaborate ruse to hide more intimate relations. Such a revelation would have been much harder to bear.

“How did you find out?” the Elf asked curiously.

“Barra,” Aragorn replied. “She startled me this morning while I was standing outside Eldarion’s door. We spoke and she let it slip that she had given the witchroot tonic to you to give to my son the night before.”

Legolas looked at the King oddly. That hardly seemed like sufficient information to put two and two together. Given Eldarion’s drunken state the previous evening, it was only natural that either he or Onela would have given the Prince the witchroot tonic.

“How did you manage to deduce our relationship from that simple piece of information?”

It was Aragorn’s turn to feel trapped, as he had knowingly trapped Barra earlier that morning. He had to tell Legolas the truth. He had never been able to lie to the Elf.

“Well,” he began, feeling his cheeks starting to burn at the prospect of his minorly embarrassing confession. It was most unbecoming of a king to blush. “When I was outside Eldarion’s door, I found myself opening it to take a look inside. The room was still quite dark and I saw two sleeping figures on the bed. One of the figures had flowing blonde hair.” The King shrugged, another uncharacteristic gesture. “I was told yesterday by some advisors that Eldarion had been seen spending a great deal of time with your sister. So, when the three of you left the celebration last night . . .” The King trailed off and looked at the Elf.

A mischievous smile had broken across Legolas’ face. It was a rare sight to see the King so uncomfortable.

“You mistook me for my sister,” the Elf lightly accused him.

“Yes, I did,” Aragorn admitted. “But is that really surprising?” he asked, in a feeble attempt to defend himself. “After all, you are one of the fairest creatures to grace these lands.”

“You saw only what you wanted to see,” Legolas returned. “Besides, I would have thought it beneath the King of Gondor to go around opening bedroom doors in order to take a peek at his sleeping son.”

Aragorn grew indignant. “Well, if you would remember to lock your doors – ”

“Then I would only have delayed the inevitable,” the Elf finished for him.

Elessar’s smile faded as the honesty of the Elf’s statement sunk in, turning the tide of their playful banter into a discussion of greater repercussions.

“You do know that we would have come to you,” Legolas continued seriously. “We would never have wished for you to find out this way. I owe you better than that.”

Aragorn shook his head. “No, Legolas,” he replied. “You owe me nothing. It is I who has treated you unjustly for too long. You deserve far better than me. Far better than anything I could have ever given.”

The Elf remained silent.

“But that does not mean,” the King said carefully, “that I approve of this relationship. My argument still stands. Eldarion has a responsibility to his people and his kingdom. He *will* take the throne one day. He is my only son.”

“And you have three daughters.”

The King looked at the Elf, puzzled.

“They can produce the heir that your line needs,” the Elf explained.

Aragorn shook his head again. “You know perfectly well that they cannot take the throne, nor can they produce an heir. Succession must be carried through the male child of the family.”

“And you are King, Aragorn. It is in your power to change such rules of succession.”

“Legolas, it is not as simple as that. A resolution of that magnitude would require the approval of my councilors, advisors and the court. Not to mention the fact that it would forever change the politics of Gondor for generations to come.”

“Yes, that is all true,” the Elf replied. “I did not say that it would be easy. But it *can* be done.”

The King studied the Elf. Although perfectly composed, one would have to be blind to miss the steely determination that lay in his piercing blue eyes. Legolas had clearly given their situation a great deal of thought. He would not relinquish the Prince easily and Aragorn severely doubted that he would be able to convince his son to do the same. Still, he had never been one to give in himself. He would try a different approach.

“Eldarion told me that you believe I love you both enough to grant you this happiness.”

The Elf smiled slightly. “I still believe that.”

“You are right about the first part. I do love you both. Perhaps I love you so much that I can no longer see beyond my own love to what the future may bring.” The King sighed. “As for the other matter . . .”

“You are a reasonable man, Aragorn,” Legolas said gently. “I know that this is difficult now. But in time, I believe you will come to see the perfect symmetry of fate’s design. Eldarion is your mirror image, but he is also his own man. I love him for the traits that you have instilled in him, but I love him more for the man he is and will become. He is the very embodiment of a love that could never be.”

Aragorn reflected on the Elf’s words. Just as his son had spoken what he had felt in his heart, now Legolas had done the same. Both messages rang clear and true, making questions of succession and politics seem inconsequential in their path. Still, the King hesitated. He was not ready to let them go. *Could* he ever let them go? They were both too dear to him.

“I will need more time before I can make such a decision,” he said at last.

The Elf reached out and squeezed the King’s shoulder reassuringly. “That is all we ask.”

The two were interrupted by a page that approached them and bowed low before speaking.

“Your Majesty,” the young boy said breathlessly, still panting from his exertions. “The Queen has sent us out to look for you. The jousting tournament is about to begin and your presence is urgently needed.”

“Thank you,” Aragorn replied. “Please relay to the Queen, the tournament director and our guests that I shall be there presently.”

The boy bowed again before scampering off.

Aragorn turned his attention back to Legolas. “Will you be joining us?” he asked.

The Elf shook his head. “No, there are some matters I must attend to,” he replied.

“Very well,” the King said. “Then I shall see you later.”

Legolas watched the King’s departing figure. Their discussion had turned out much better than he had anticipated. At least Aragorn had not forbidden their relationship outright, as he had done earlier that morning in his study.

The Elf picked up his borrowed bow once more, deciding to finish the remaining arrows in his quiver. An idea was starting to form in his mind. He would need the help of his fellow Elves to carry it out, but he had no doubt that should they succeed, it would increase the chances of the King returning a decision in their favor. As King, Aragorn had proven himself to be the most rational of Men. The Elf would have to find a way to show him that when it came to matters of the heart, the mind would not always be able to have the last say.


Eldarion turned on his side. He was still half-asleep, but he could feel another presence in the room. His eyes fluttered opened and they focused on a short figure sitting in a chair by the bed.


“It is I.”

The Prince sat up slowly, his head still foggy from the effects of his unusual sleep. “What time is it?” he asked.

“It is a little after noon.”

“Noon?” the Prince repeated.  He had slept for much longer than he expected. He looked around him. What was he doing in Legolas’ room? The events of the morning came flooding back and he felt that same fear grip his heart again. “Where is Legolas?” he asked urgently.

“Legolas is fine,” the Dwarf assured him. “He is with the Ithilien and Greenwood Elves making preparations for tonight’s performance. He regrets that he cannot be with you for the moment and has asked me to keep you company today.”

Eldarion smiled. “Are you my baby-sitter, then?” he chided. “Here to ensure that I don’t do anything impulsive and rash?”

Gimli shook his head, secretly pleased that the Prince was in such good spirits.

“You have been spending too much time with the Elf if you really believe that,” he scoffed. “I would never degrade myself to the status of a ‘baby-sitter’” he said, the last two words dripping from his lips with derision. “It just so happens that I have nothing better to do. The jousting tournament will be on all day and I have no desire to see pompous Men on those infernal beasts trying to knock each other down with exceedingly long, pointy sticks. If that isn’t the height of stupidity, then I don’t know what is.”

Eldarion laughed heartily at the Dwarf’s comic description. “I have never quite seen jousting in that way before,” he said. “It is, after all, a sport for ‘men of honor,’” the Prince emphasized.

“‘Men of honor,’” the Dwarf mocked. “Perhaps they ought to have some sense knocked into them first.”

“Well, since we are clearly not going to the jousting tournament,” the Prince said. “What would you  have us do instead?”

“First of all, I would have us take some lunch,” the Dwarf stated, standing up and stretching as he did so. “And I don’t mean the fancy palace food that you are accustomed to ingesting,” he added. “I want real food from a tavern or one of Minas Tirith’s more common establishments. It is time you stopped living such a sheltered life. The more time you spend with me, young Prince, the more you shall learn about the real world.”

The Prince smiled. Ever since he had met Legolas and Gimli, he had indeed been learning more about the ‘real world’. Gimli’s good humor and boisterous personality was just the remedy he needed to take his mind off his predicament. Just as Onela had been the ideal companion the day before, the Dwarf would be the perfect companion today. Eldarion reflected on how carefully Legolas planned everything. For one who believed in fate’s grand design, the Elf never left anything to chance.

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