4. Lessons In Duty
- Lessons In Duty -
Late… He was late. Glorfindel walked faster; he should not have dallied, and taken the time to return earlier. The disgusted looks on the servants' faces told him as much, along with the trail of mud and blood he was leaving in his wake. By now, his smell and the state of his clothing should have dissipated any romantic illusions they could have had about his race, he thought wryly.
Outside the clamor was growing louder, more enthusiastic, and Glorfindel hurried, pausing only for a second before the doors to adjust his tunic – not that he could do much about the ripped sleeve and the splatter of blood – but an effort was never wasted. Then he pushed the doors, squinting to let his eyes adjust to the bright sunshine, and stepped outside.
The acclamations assaulted him from every direction; the crowd gathered in the courtyard was truly immense, people massing between the parapets of stone and craning their necks to get a better view. He spotted Erestor and hurried over.
The advisor glared at him. "You are late," he hissed, nodding towards the dais where Aragorn stood before Mithrandir, ready to be crowned King. His eyes widened in horror. "And is that… blood? Stars, Glorfindel, did you not have the decency to change?"
"Obviously not," Glorfindel had wanted to snap in reply, but from the other side of the aisle, Elrond's reproachful stare pinned his tongue to its place.
Indeed, Glorfindel was beginning to grasp the extent of the disaster. The day was warm, and what insects happened to be flying over the ceremony did not fail to smell the feast his tunic offered. In a matter of minutes, a small cloud was buzzing happily around him, forcing Erestor to retreat to the other side of the twins, who seemed to mind his state less than he.
Even less sensitive mortals to his other side seemed to be offended by the smell and drew further, shuffling away in their most polite manner; Glorfindel scowled.
Maybe riding out to hunt whatever orcs still hid in the lands neighboring the city had been a mistake. This day was not his but Estel's; the long-awaited and well-deserved moment of glory in their friend and protégé's life. The ceremony was splendid indeed, intended to impress the many attendees. Princes, lords and simple commoners would judge the King by this day, and remember what? A foul-smelling fool besmirching the King's immaculate carpets and halls.
Glorfindel felt a blush creep up his neck. Once again he had only listened to that overgrown sense of duty Erestor had so often called pig-headedness, and shamed his friends. Maybe if he left?… He took a step back, willing the crowd to close on him and hide him from view.
Aragorn walked down the aisle. The crown was an unusual weight on his head, one he would have to get accustomed to. Beside him, Arwen was holding his arm and smiling shyly at the cheering crowd. He knew she feared that the people of Gondor would have trouble accepting an elven Queen, but as he marveled once again at her beauty and grace, he wondered: how could they not love her? He met her eyes and she blushed; he leaned in for a kiss, earning whistles and shouts of joy from his subjects.
Long had he awaited this day, and here he was, after years of wandering the wilderness with no true anchor and too many names; now the prophesy was accomplished, the weight of his heritage finally lifted off his shoulders.
How he had feared, back then, that each battle would be his last, that he would perish for his own foolishness and the hopes of his people would remain deceived… Each fight, each quest had been a step he took towards his prophesized future, one he had not chosen but learnt to long for. And finally the day had come when everyone's dreams had come true. Now he could be happy as well.
He grinned as he embraced Elrond, the man he had called Father as long as he could remember, the one who had raised him and protected him as his own flesh and blood. He greeted Faramir and the Lady Éowyn, noting how she seemed to lean towards the young Steward; a sign of attraction clearly welcomed by the man. So she, too, had found the happiness she deserved.
Next came Éomer, his brother in arms and a precious ally for the years to come. Old alliances had to be reforged, new ones strengthened; Rohan and Gondor, side by side would see to it.
Erestor welcomed his embrace with a wry smile, and Aragorn rejoiced that the advisor had accepted to be parted from the house he so seldom left to be present at his coronation. "Welcome to Gondor, my friend," he spoke in elvish.
His brothers greeted him with a playful pat on the back, not heeding the crown that now adorned his forehead, and he grinned at their apparent irreverence. They would always see him as little Estel, a boy they protected and played with. Now that boy had taken a liking to shiny crowns and swords, and they were indulging his fancy. Aragorn smiled: it was good to know that some things would never change. Speaking of which…
The Chief of Guards turned around, and Aragorn had to resist the urge to laugh at his sour face.
"Leaving already?" he teased.
"Mumble-mumble-goingtochange-mumble," came the reply.
Aragorn sensed that it was not all jokes for the ancient warrior. Glorfindel seemed distinctly uncomfortable, his stance rigid and eyes challenging, and Aragorn understood why when he saw the people around him try to distance themselves from the blood-smeared elf. Anger rose in his chest; they did not, could not understand who and what Glorfindel was; even most elves never had. And he would not have his friend, his hero so shamed because of their ignorance.
He opened his arms and pulled his old friend into a tight embrace.
For each person he had ever met had taught him something. There had been love and affection, showered upon him by Elrond and his mother. They had dried his tears and soothed his fears, and supported him through the difficult choices he had had to make. There had been wisdom, offered in advice by Erestor, repeated patiently until he understood; to this day he believed that there was nothing the advisor did not know. There had been skill with a weapon, shown – and sometimes playfully beaten into him, when he was showing overconfidence in his prowess – by his brothers.
And there had been duty.
It had been Glorfindel who, as he watched his first horse agonize from a broken leg after a carefree expedition into the forest, had forced his hand to seize a blade and end the animal's suffering. It had been Glorfindel who had told the spoiled boy he used to be that birthdays and Yules came second to the threat of orcs at their borders. It had been Glorfindel who had taught him that beside rights and privileges there were duties, harsh and demanding, and sacred. For many of such lessons the Chief of Guards had endured a bitter reprimand from Elrond, but his reply had never varied: "He will be King. He must know his duty."
Now he was that King, and he remembered those words.
He let go of Glorfindel and, in the stunned silence that descended upon the courtyard, he lay a hand on his friend's shoulder.
"Do invite me, next time," he said.
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.