"Let this Regency Council of the High Elves of Beleriand be called to order."

There was a certain uneasy shuffling around the table. In part, that was due to the fact that, with Cirdan (for Balar), Tuor (for the Edain), Annael (for Mithrim), and Oropher (for the Iathrim) at the table, less than half of the council were technically High Elves. But mostly it was because Egalmoth's senatorial drone seemed utterly unsuited to the seafront terrace, a dull counterpoint to the children playing on the sand a few yards away.

"I think we can settle this quickly," Tuor said, leaning forward on the elegant table. "As daughter of the High King, Idril-"

"Oh, come now!" Guilin, highest-ranking of the survivors of Nargothrond, tossed his head. "Little Itarillë, a ruler? You might as well put," he glanced down at the beach, "put Elwing in Oropher's seat, here."

Tuor bristled. "My wife is hardly a child-"

"Maybe not to you-"

"Settle, settle." Cirdan raised both hands in a soothing gesture. "Let us not sail into stormy waters so soon."

"Oh, great," muttered Oropher, youngest of the council save for Tuor. "More ocean metaphors. I can't wait."

Egalmoth attempted to fix everyone at the table with a simultaneous glare. "I must concur with Lord Guilin," he said. "While Princess Idril is a fine woman, she has never been an administrator; why, Lord Tuor, even the governance of the 'House of the Wing'," the verbal quote marks dropped smoothly into place, "was left to yourself."

"Naturally." Annael, dressed in drab grey, still managed to preen like a peacock. "It's all down to my training. Did you know, when he was a mere eight summers, I-"

"I said settle," Cirdan rumbled. "It seems clear that offering the crown to Princess Idril would be contentious."

"Exactly," Guilin said, nodding emphatically. "And besides, if we're considering women, then I think we all know there's a woman with a far better claim."

"Oh, holy stars." Oropher buried his head in his hands. "Please, please - not Galadriel!"

It was Guilin's turn to bristle. "Lady Artanis is a fine and noble leader, and-"

"-and her husband would never let me hear the end of it!" Oropher shook his head emphatically. "No. Anyone but her."

"Besides," Egalmoth put in, "the King's cousin is not, in fact... here."

As one, the council glanced east, towards the distant shadow of the Blue Mountains, and the wide lands beyond. Cirdan nodded slowly.

"I concur," he said, "that having a High King - or, as it were, Queen - who has not set foot in Beleriand for many years would seem... unwise."

"But," Annael said suddenly, "if, as Guilin says, we are considering women, I think we all know who has the best claim to the title."

He looked around the table, but was met only with blank stares. Tuor actually halfway raised his hand before asking, "Is this about Idril again?"

"No!" Annael snapped. "It's Lalwen! King Fingolfin's sister?"

"Who?" said Oropher, but Cirdan was nodding.

"I had forgotten the Lady Lalwen," he admitted. "She does have a certain seniority..."

"No," said Egalmoth and Guilin simultaneously. The Lord of Nargothrond hesitated, then gestured to the Lord of the Heavenly Arch to continue. "It is... questionable whether Írimë would take primacy over Idril," Egalmoth went on. "And the last thing we need is a questionably High King."

"Oh, just come out and say it," Tuor said. "You don't want to put a woman on the throne."

"There's not exactly a precedent," Oropher said. "No woman has ever ruled in Beler-"

"Haleth," Tuor said, then smirked. "Oh, I'm sorry, I was just thinking. Do go on."

"... amongst the Eldar," Guilin said, lowering his brows at the Man, "the High King has always been a... King."

"Fine," Tuor said, and then his face cleared. "Fine," he repeated in a lighter tone. "I shall call Eärendil over, and we can-"

"Tuor," Annael said with exasperated patience, "he's five. You can't-"

"Eight," Tuor corrected. "Nearly nine."

"He is a child," Oropher said firmly. "At a time like this, we can't have a child leading us."

"He'd do a better job than certain others," Tuor said under his breath. "Fine. Then who? The Sons of Feanor?"

The reactions around the table ranged from a mild raised eyebrow (Cirdan) to an outraged fist pounded onto the wood (Guilin). The council seemed set to descend into screaming when Annael coughed pointedly, cutting through the rising anger.

"I suppose," he said, "there's always Rodnor."

Five faces looked at him blankly. "Who?" asked Tuor, suspicious.

"You know," Annael said. "The boy. Gil-Galad."

"Oh." The Man leaned back, suddenly amused. "Him. Yes, there is always... him."

Cirdan looked around the table. Oropher looked bewildered, Egalmoth thoughtful, Guilin faintly disgusted. "Whatever else he may be," the shipwright said slowly, "he is a scion of kings."

"That's one way of putting it," Egalmoth murmured. "Yes, I think... I think my people could accept him."

"I agree," Tuor said, locking eyes with him. "Our people would."

"The Rodothlim won't be happy," Guilin said reluctantly, "but of all the options..."

"Well, I have no idea who you're on about," Oropher said, stretching, "but it sounds like it's all settled. And since, lack of forests aside, it's a nice day, I propose we end this here. Any objections? No? Great; I'm off to the beach."

Disclaimer: All characters belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Author's Note: This one arose out of a discussion about why, exactly, Gil-Galad became High King, when there were several other candidates out there. My position is that he was a compromise - the least-worst option.

The Regency Council consists of Cirdan (Lord of the Falas, Lord of Balar), Tuor (refugee of Gondolin, Lord of the House of the Wing), Egalmoth (refugee of Gondolin, Lord of Folk of the Heavenly Arch), Oropher (refugee of Doriath, later King of Mirkwood), Guilin (a lord of Nargothrond, father of Gwindor), and Annael (leader of the Elves of Mithrim after its fall, and foster-father of Tuor). Only Egalmoth and Guilin are actually Noldor. All except Guilin and Annael are known to be at the Havens at this point; those two at least aren't known to be dead.

The candidates are, in order, Idril/Itarillë (daughter of Turgon, the last High King), Galadriel/Artanis (daughter of Fingolfin's brother), Lalwen/Írimë (daughter of Finwë, sister of Fingolfin, not mentioned in the published Silm), Eärendil (son of Idril), the Sons of Fëanor (at this point Maedhros, Maglor, and at least one of Amrod and Amras), and of course Gil-Galad/Rodnor/Ereinion (son of Fingon, or maybe of Orodreth, depending on the text).

You may decide for yourself what it is about Gil-Galad that makes him so dubious a prospect. There are several options, I'm sure.