Standard disclaimers apply. I don't own any of Tolkien's characters, his world, his languages, etc. I make absolutely no money from this.
"I am not ready for this."
Looking up, Legolas met the man's eyes in the mirror. "Ready for what, Aragorn?" He did not stop what he was doing, braiding his friend's hair for the upcoming ceremony. The coronation of the king was due to start in a little over an hour. Having gotten dressed and ready earlier than Aragorn, he had stopped by to talk and found the human struggling to get his hair to look just right. Taking pity on his very nervous friend, he had offered to take over the task.
Aragorn gestured to the mirror. "I am not ready to be a king, Legolas. I do not even recognize the man staring back at me."
Legolas' hands stilled for a moment as he studied the reflection in the mirror. Aragorn was dressed in the formal attire of a warrior king. The chain mail he wore was covered by the dark chest piece bearing the image of the white tree of Gondor. His shoulder coverings and cape made him seem very regal indeed. Though, considering that his current attire was greatly different than his ranger attire, Legolas could understand how Aragorn might not recognize himself. Smiling slightly, Legolas put the last of the braids into place and stepped back. "You are the same man you have always been, Aragorn. Only the outward trappings have changed."
"And therein lies the problem," Aragorn said, turning around to face Legolas. "The man I have always been is a loner, a wanderer, a ranger, not a king. I have ever only had myself to worry about, and now I am expected to know what is best for an entire kingdom?"
"Your entire life has been leading you to this moment, Aragorn." Legolas grew serious as he looked at his friend, placing his hand upon his shoulder.
Aragorn brushed the elf's hand off of his shoulder and turned to begin pacing the length of the room. "Please do not tell me it is my destiny, Legolas. I have heard it my whole life. I grow weary of listening to others tell me what my life should be."
Crossing his arms over his chest, Legolas' voice grew firm as he answered. "Then I will not tell you of your destiny. I will tell you what I know of you as a man."
Ceasing his pacing, Aragorn gazed back at Legolas from across the room. He inclined his head toward his friend, indicating that he was listening.
"You are correct when you said that you have spent most of your life as a wanderer, a ranger, but that is not all that you have been. As a healer, you have learned empathy for people. Knowing what people are feeling and feeling their pain with them is an important quality for a king. A leader who does not understand his people can never make the best decisions for them. Many years ago, you served in both Rohan and Gondor as a soldier and a captain of men. In that, and in your years as the chieftain of the rangers, you learned to lead and inspire men. As we have already seen, your people will follow wherever you lead. They were ready to follow you to their deaths in Mordor if you but asked. But knowing that, you would never ask your people to give their lives in battle if there were a peaceful way to avoid it. You feel each of their deaths keenly, which can weigh upon your soul, but you will be sure to never grow cold or callous to the fact that your soldiers have died to protect their homes and families. In your pain for their deaths, you honor them, their courage and their loyalty."
As he spoke, Legolas gestured out the window to the hundreds of people already gathering in the courtyard below. "Your people need a good, honest king who will try to do what is best for them. They will look to you as an example of what they should be, and you will live up to it. I have known you for many years now, and I know you to be a good, honest, honorable, generous, and loving man. Those who are lucky enough to be counted among your friends know that they have a friend who would go to the ends of Middle Earth and beyond to help them if they need aid. It is not only your subjects who would follow you anywhere, Aragorn. I would follow wherever you lead, as would all others who know and love you. Though I have lived for centuries, I have met very few in that time that I can truly say I am honored to have met. You are counted among those few."
Aragorn had to ask a question at that. "May I ask who else is on that list?"
Legolas smiled. "My father and yours are on that list, along with a few others."
Glancing down, Aragorn had to swallow a lump in his throat. Taking a deep breath, he looked up and met Legolas' steady gaze. "No, my friend. It is I who have been honored with your friendship. I have never understood your loyalty to me, though I greatly treasure it."
Shaking his head in exasperation, Legolas spoke again. "If you do not understand, then you have not been listening. You have all of the qualities necessary to be a great king, Aragorn. But more than that, you have all of the qualities of a great friend. My loyalty to you has come about because of who you are, not who your ancestors were, or who you were destined to become. You earned my loyalty long ago, and you will have it until the day you die…and beyond."
Aragorn glanced down at the vow implied in Legolas' words. He looked up when he felt Legolas' hand on his shoulder.
"I will not sail until you have left the confines of this world Aragorn. I want to be here to see you become everything that you were meant to be. The span of a mortal's life is too short, even the longer life of the Dúnedain. I could not bear to leave and cut short the time we have remaining."
Gazing deep into Legolas' blue eyes, Aragorn saw how seriously he took this vow. "I cannot ask that of you, Legolas. I know you have felt the call of the gulls and the pull of the sea. I could not ask you to stay."
Legolas smiled at him. "You do not ask. I make the vow freely. As I am not one of your subjects, you cannot order me to leave."
Aragorn returned the smile and placed his hand on Legolas' shoulder. "And as your friend, I would never make such an order. I would miss your company far too much."
"As I would yours," Legolas replied. "And now, mellon-nin, I think we have a ceremony to prepare for." As he saw the momentary hesitation, he reassured the man one last time. "You will be fine, Aragorn. King Elessar will be known as the greatest king Gondor ever had. This is something I know to be true."
"Do you?" Aragorn asked playfully as they dropped their hands from each other's shoulders and headed for the doorway. Their conversation had helped to calm his nerves. Now he felt ready to face what the day held for him, and the responsibilities he was about to take on. Legolas' confidence in him had helped to bolster his own confidence. "I did not know you had the gift of foresight, my friend."
Stopping in the hallway before he had to go meet up with the elven contingent, Legolas gave Aragorn a secretive smile. "Some things do not require foresight." He gave Aragorn a bow. "Your highness." With that, Legolas straightened and turned to walk away. He paused and looked back as Aragorn softly spoke his name.
"Hannon le, mellon-nin." (Thank you, my friend.)
Legolas inclined his head in acknowledgment then watched as Aragorn turned and walked down the hallway to his destiny.