Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Lord of the Rings. It belongs to the genius that is Tolkien.
Summary: (Second place winner in the Teitho contest 'First Sentence.') In the city of Minas Tirith, Legolas commits a most grievous betrayal.
-------------A Good Idea
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
The inauspicious words flashed through Legolas' mind as he watched the king of the combined realms of Gondor and Arnor storm furiously towards him, boots echoing harshly on the stone floor of the corridor. An almost undetectable flash of nervousness flickered through the clear blue eyes of the son of Thranduil as the man drew ever closer until the small lines of fury which hardened his face were clearly visible, even to those not gifted with the keen sight of the elves. As the sovereign of Gondor came to an abrupt halt before him, Legolas raised his hands in what he dearly hoped was a placating gesture.
"Aragorn…" he began earnestly.
His grey eyes granite stones, the king took one step forward. Legolas took one back.
The grim expression on the ex-ranger's face simply darkened ominously.
"My liege?" Legolas tried hopefully.
Rough hands reached out and grasped a clenched handful of the elf's light tunic. "What exactly did you hope to accomplish by your actions?" The king's words were a low growl as he jerked the elf forwards until they were face to face, separated by mere inches.
"Well-" began Legolas, taken aback by the bitterness in his friend's voice, yet Aragorn cut him off sharply.
"Howcould such a thing even cross your mind?"
"Have the years which we have spent together meant nothing to you?" Aragorn demanded harshly, refusing to release the elf as his anger intensified. "The battles we fought, the miles we travelled? We were at the very gates of Mordor together, for Valar's sake! I thought that our friendship meant something! It was sealed with blood often enough, yet now it seems that even that was inconsequential!"
"Mellon nin-" Legolas' mind was whirling furiously as he tried to grasp why what he deemed a relatively minor thing had triggered such a violent reaction from his friend of several decades.
"I trusted you!" Aragorn thundered, shoving the elf away from him.
Stumbling back a few steps, Legolas winced at the man's obvious rage. "Aragorn, I am sorry!"
In the next instant, the king of Gondor drew his anger close around him like a shroud, the heated fury becoming an icy chill which marked his every movement, gesture and glance. With a single sharp motion he silenced any further protestations. "It is no use apologising, mellon nin," he interrupted coldly, the latter two words laced with sarcasm. "Such a betrayal cannot be forgiven." Before the elf could say anything more, he turned on his heel and strode away.
Legolas' eyes followed the man as he stalked down the corridor, hurt etched deeply on the youthful features which belied his many years. However, before many moments had passed, the streak of stubbornness which had served the prince well throughout the long centuries of his life came boiling to the surface of his mind. He would not let such a friendship as theirs had been not even that morning end so easily, not without a fight. Swiftly Legolas moved to follow after the ex-ranger and, reaching a hand out to the broad shoulder of the human, he forced him around until they were face to face once more.
"You speak of friendship?" he questioned abruptly, meeting the king's bladed glare with a determined gaze of his own. "Then hear me out. What I did was for your own good."
Aragorn released a harsh laugh. "Indeed,' he replied bitterly. "Pray tell, how was such a thing meant to benefit me?"
"I sought to help you," the elf growled, ignoring the man's words. "Yet it seems as though my efforts have been met with something other than the gratitude they deserve!" Distantly Legolas noted the anger which lanced his words and he drew it back, forcing himself to remain calm as he stared into silver-grey eyes more familiar than his own. "Hear me," he said softly, silently asking the man to understand. "I meant no harm."
"Hear you?" Aragorn echoed incredulously, his voice rising. "And why should I listen to the false words of a traitor who sought to take that which is most precious to me? Had Pippin not chanced to be visiting and so witness your treachery, it would have been lost to me forever at the hands of one whom I trusted with my life!"
Legolas winced at the man's use of the past tense but refused to back down from the furious contest. "Our friendship shall not end this way," he argued stubbornly. "I will not let it."
"You have only yourself to blame if it does," was the bitter return as the man turned to leave once more.
"But it was Arwen who-" Legolas halted mid-sentence, knowing, as soon as the words left his mouth, that he had made a grave mistake.
Sure enough, Aragorn whipped around, storm-coloured eyes flashing a tempest. "Do not even think to bring Arwen into this," he hissed. "She is blameless and you know it!"
"Blameless?" Legolas echoed. "Aragorn, she was going to destroy it!"
"Nay," the king denied, with a quick shake of his head. "She would not do such a thing."
"I speak the truth!"
"Then why are your words so hard to believe?" An unnerving silence rang out for a brief moment as king and prince glared at each other, then, without warning, the fury waned from Aragorn's face and body as though he had suddenly grown weary of fighting. "Legolas," he said quietly. "I nearly lost it."
"Aragorn. It is a coat."
"It is my coat!" the ex-ranger retorted, fire heating his voice once more. "It has been with me through many trials, nearly all my life, to Rohan, to Mordor and back! Why in Valar's name would you take it from me?"
An image appeared in Legolas' mind's eye of a long leather coat so dark a green to be almost black, worn in places, patched in others and generally falling apart. Memories flashed through his mind, of the coat laid out beneath the man as he slept, rolled up as a headrest, or spread out over muddy grass to protect a bloody wound. More images swamped him, of mocking Aragorn light-heartedly as the ranger painstakingly stitched a tear caused by a stray arrow, and of watching the Dunedan draw his coat further around himself as they sat before a campfire somewhere in the wilderness of Middle Earth.
Gradually the familiar voice registered with the elf and he forced his mind back to the current situation, only to find the ranger to whom said coat belonged staring at him strangely. "Nearly all your life?" the prince repeated slowly.
"Aye, you were there when I first got it," Aragorn replied, the last traces of his anger fading as he recalled the fond memory.
"That was shortly after you joined the rangers," Legolas muttered almost to himself, yet the sharp ears of the ranger caught the mumbled words.
Blue eyes widened disbelievingly as the elf stared at his friend. "My point, mellon nin, is that that was over sixty years ago! I assumed that you had replaced it with a new one at some stage!"
"Elladan told me that you often use the same bow for centuries," Aragorn argued. "Why then would you assume that I would get a new coat after only a few decades?"
"It is a completely different situation!"
The king shrugged. "I wear my coat on my back and you wear your bow on yours. It does not seem so different to me."
Legolas simply dealt him an incredulous look before shaking his head and walking away, muttering to himself about the strange logic of Men. Aragorn, however, pursued the elf prince, not ready to let the little matter of the elf's betrayal rest so easily.
"You spoke of Arwen. Why?"
"I am not going to tell you," replied Legolas without stopping. "You will just get mad at me again."
"You are aware that you sound like a child?" inquired Aragorn offhandedly, matching his stride with his friend's.
The king of Gondor released a long-suffering sigh, well aware of how stubborn the elf prince could be if he was so inclined. "What if I promise that I will not get angry?"
Legolas considered the man's proposition carefully before nodding his agreement. "Very well," he conceded. "It was early this morning that I first became aware that your coat was in danger. I was in the gardens behind the citadel when Arwen and Eldarion approached beneath me-"
"I was in a tree."
"What were you doing in a tree?"
"I am a wood-elf, Aragorn. I like trees." Taking the man's noncommittal grunt as a sign of acquiescence, Legolas continued. "I heard Arwen say that was your coat not removed from the cupboard in which it resided before the day was out, then she would cast it into the fires of Mount Doom."
Aragorn stared at his friend, disbelief written plainly in his eyes. "That is impossible," he declared flatly.
"Mount Doom no longer exists."
"That is what Eldarion protested. Arwen said that as that was the case, the palace furnace would have to suffice."
Aragorn raised a hand to his face and rubbed his bearded chin as he mulled over the elf's words, then he shook his head firmly. "Nay."
"You do not believe me?"
"I do not," replied the ex-ranger. "Arwen has never objected to my coat before."
"Not in your hearing," muttered Legolas under his breath.
"What was that?"
The elf prince looked at the human innocently, blue eyes crystal clear pools. "I did not say anything."
Aragorn's eyes narrowed suspiciously yet he dismissed his friend's strange behaviour and continued with his reasoning. "As I was saying, Arwen has not objected before, thus I see no reason why she would object now."
"I do not think that it is the coat itself to which she objects, mellon nin," Legolas commented carefully. "But rather the fact that you insist on hanging it up within a few feet of a number of rather fine robes."
Silence reigned for some moments as Aragorn thought about the recent revelations. Finally, he spoke. "I still do not understand why you tried to steal my coat."
"I was not trying to steal it!" retorted Legolas vehemently.
"Then why did I catch you trying to sneak out of the citadel with it hidden beneath your cloak?"
"I was taking it to Ithilien!"
"Ah!" exclaimed Aragorn triumphantly. "You were trying to steal it!"
Legolas took a deep, calming breath. "This is the last time that I will say this, Aragorn, son of Arathorn," he began, pronouncing each word slowly. "I was not trying to steal your coat." The man opened his mouth to interrupt, yet Legolas held up a hand quickly. "Let me finish. I was not going to steal it. I thought only to remove it from Gondor in order to keep it safe from your wife!"
"I do not believe you."
Legolas swung round to face the human, a mixture of disbelief and frustration etched on his features. "Why not?" he growled.
"If what you say is true, Eldarion would have said something," replied Aragorn simply. "He knows what that coat means to me."
About to retort, Legolas stilled abruptly and glanced towards the wooden door at the end of the corridor. A split second later it was thrown open and a dark-haired whirlwind barrelled through it, long legs which had not yet been grown into nearly tangling as the youth to which they belonged skidded to a halt before them.
Clear blue eyes tinted with just the slightest bit of grey and framed by soft, dark locks gazed earnestly back at Aragorn as he looked at his eldest child. His son and heir was soon to reach his thirteenth year, and was at the stage where his movements were a blend of a coltish awkwardness and a grace and strength which he had yet to fully inherit. Impatiently, Eldarion brushed a falling strand of hair back behind a slightly pointed ear as words came stumbling forth from his mouth almost too fast to make out.
"I was with Nana in the gardens today and she said that she was going to throw your ranger coat into Mount Doom and when I said that it no longer existed she said that the palace furnace would have to suffice!"
Aragorn glanced from his heavily panting son to the blonde haired elf prince who had moved back to lean against the corridor wall and was currently looking at him with one dark eyebrow raised. Ignoring his elven friend with a skill born of practice, Aragorn turned back to his son. "You are sure of this, Eldarion?"
The boy nodded firmly. "I am."
"I see." Aragorn clasped a hand on his son's shoulder. "Thank you, ion nin, for telling me this. You have saved the life of a very annoying elf today."
Eldarion ducked his head in a quick bow, then paused as his father's words registered. He glanced around and for the first time became aware of the prince of Mirkwood leaning against the stone wall on his right, one leg half folded beneath him and arms crossed over his chest.
"What are you still doing here?"
Legolas glanced at the youth, surprised at the curt question from the usually polite prince. "What do you mean?"
Eldarion's brow furrowed slightly, and a hand came up to rub over his chin. "Nana said that she thought you would be in Ithilien by now." He shrugged. "I did not know what she meant as I thought you were staying until my begetting day." He turned to go, then turned back hurriedly. "But I'm glad you're still here," he added, suddenly worried that he had offended one whom he considered a combination of mischievous friend, protective father, teasing brother and doting uncle. With that, he left, long gangling legs taking him in quick, yet near silent strides to the door by which he had entered.
Aragorn sighed as he watched his son leave. "He is far too much like his mother for his own good," he muttered to Legolas, yet the elf was staring into the distance, blue eyes fixed on something just beyond Aragorn's gaze.
"She knew," the elf muttered softly, almost to himself.
"She knew," Legolas repeated. "Arwen told Eldarion that she thought that I would be in Ithilien by now. She knew that I could hear her this morning. She realised that I would try to save your coat, that I would remove it from the cupboard, from Gondor, as she wanted." Aragorn stared at him blankly. "Arwen planned this! The walk in the gardens, her comments to Eldarion, all of it!"
"She would not do such a thing. Would she?"
"This is Arwen we are speaking of."
"You are right." Aragorn's brows furrowed slightly. "Perhaps it is time that I start storing my coat somewhere else," he murmured.
"The hobbits tell me that that the Shire is lovely at this time of year."
"I could ask Pippin to take it with him when he leaves," agreed Aragorn. "I would be assured of its safety at least."
"Provided that Pippin did not lose it on his way home."
Aragorn grimaced. "Perhaps I could summon Eomer to Gondor, for a council of some sort, and he could take it back to Edoras."
"If you light the beacons he could be here within the week."
The king frowned. "Are you mocking me?"
"Aye, I am." The elf prince chuckled at the man's scowl before pushing himself lightly off of the wall in one swift movement. "It is your own fault, mellon nin, you are the one who married her."
Aragorn just growled at him before striding off, mind already at work on how to sneak his coat out of his kingdom. Legolas followed on his heels.
"I believe that you owe me something?"
"If you speak of an apology, you are not going to get one."
"Forgive me, I must have be mistaken in my belief that when a man mistakenly calls his closest friend a traitor, said friend receives an apology as a matter of course."
"In what way was I mistaken, exactly?" shot back Aragorn as the two made their way up the last few steps which led onto the uppermost courtyard of Minas Tirith. "There is no escaping the fact that you stole my coat."
"With the best of intentions."
"Yet the act remains the same."
Legolas shrugged. "It seemed like a good idea at the time," he replied easily. "Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to seek the company of someone who will not accuse me of betrayal." He had only taken a few steps forward when he found the solid shape of the king of Gondor blocking his way.
"Do not try to get out of this one, mellon nin," Aragorn stated firmly. "You stole my coat. I can have you arrested and thrown into the dungeons with a single word if I choose it."
"You would not dare."
"Is that a challenge?"
"The guards would not be able to catch me," answered the elf, with more than a hint of arrogance. "Although," he considered thoughtfully, "It would be amusing to see them try."
"It would, wouldn't it?"
Legolas stared at the king of Gondor, becoming slightly unnerved at the mischievous, not to mention decidedly evil, glint that had appeared in the silver-grey eyes. "You would set your guards on me for your own amusement?" he questioned doubtfully.
Aragorn shrugged dismissively. "It has been peaceful in Gondor as of late. I would think that they would appreciate the practice."
"You would at least tell them that it is only a practice," Legolas asked, his tone somewhat uncertain.
"Guards!" The shout rang out over the courtyard in which only seconds was swarming with a squadron of Gondor's finest in full armour. "After him!" King Elessar roared, pointing after his friend of many years, of which only a fleeting glimpse of blonde hair could be seen. Immediately, the chase began.
Aragorn smirked as he watched the running figures, satisfied that just retribution had been delivered. His smile only widened as a host of rangers, on rest from the final stages of the cleansing of Ithilien, joined the chase, green cloaks billowing behind them as they poured down the stairs which led to the courtyard. Only one remained behind and he approached the smirking sovereign, delivering a courteous bow when he reached him.
"Faramir," the king responded evenly.
"May I ask why you have just set the Guards of the Citadel, not to mention a squadron of my rangers, on Prince Legolas?"
"He tried to steal my coat."
From where she stood behind a convenient pillar, Arwen heaved a soft sigh as she watched the son of Thranduil shoot past her at a full run, apparently having failed in his task. It seemed like a good idea at the time, she thought regretfully, and turned to find a certain red-bearded dwarf who was visiting, certain that he would appreciate an opportunity to best his elven friend in what was turning out to be a most difficult undertaking.
The EndThanks for reading and I really hope you enjoyed! Reviews are very welcome!