Disclaimer: not mine! They belong to Tolkien.

FAREWELL

The word had gone through the City like wildfire. The Hallows had been opened, the torches lit, and on a bare stone bed velvet cloths had been laid. And some said that they had seen the King enter, dressed in sable and argent, the crown upon his head and the sceptre in his hand.

Around the Circles the people gathered in groups, talking low and waiting for news. Outside Rath Dínen the guards waited too. The princesses had been in and come out again weeping, but there had been no order from inside, no word from Elessar.

And now came the sound of running footsteps, pounding along the pavestones. Shortly the running figure appeared, cloak streaming out behind him and black hair tousled.

"My lord Eldarion!" the guard on duty exclaimed.

Eldarion, his breath coming in short bursts, said, "Let me in." And the guard stood aside and the prince entered the Silent Street.

All was lit with torches and long candles burning in tall holders, and Eldarion gritted his teeth as he walked slowly forward to the bed. By it, a slender figure stood with bent head, and Eldarion paused and bowed. "Mother."

Arwen Undómiel looked up, and Eldarion saw the tears in her eyes. "Go on," she murmured.

He stepped forwards, bridging the last few yards between him and the regal, motionless form on the bed, and bit back tears.

"My lord?" he said, his low voice echoing in the silence of that place.

Elessar's eyes opened, and he smiled at his son. "I am not yet gone, Eldarion. Come closer."

Eldarion moved to the King, and reaching out laid his hand over Elessar's, folded on his breast.

"My time has come, Eldarion," the King said. "I am old and I have lived out my years. And now yours must begin. Take now the sceptre, and the crown, and go out to rule with all your strength and wisdom. You will be a good king."

"Must this be so?" Eldarion asked, his eyes taking in his beloved father's face.

"We are permitted to choose the hour of our death, that we might choose wisely," returned Elessar. "I do not wish to linger here and sink into folly. Look after Gondor well." He gazed at Eldarion with keen grey eyes. "I am proud of you, my son," he said, softly.

Eldarion found he could not speak, but he managed a smile, and from his father's hands he took the sceptre, and then gently from Elessar's grey head he lifted the winged crown of Gondor.

"Thank you," the King said. "May the Valar bless you, Eldarion, King of Gondor and Arnor of the House of Telcontar. Namarië."

Eldarion bent and kissed his father's brow. "Farewell, father, my lord."

He stepped backwards, and then with a last longing glance at Elessar, he turned and left the Silent Street. Behind him he heard the gentle murmur of his mother's voice, and a reply from his father, and the tears began to flow down Eldarion's cheeks.