Legolas Greenleaf, Agent of MESS, in
The City of the King
Disclaimer: Legolas, Aragorn and all recognisable characters belong to the estate of Tolkien (the lucky, lucky bastards). James Bond was created and written by the very suave Ian Fleming.
Author's Notes: Last chapter! Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed. I've appreciated every word.
Chapter 11. A Royal Return
The orcs had been routed and victory secured. The people of Minas Tirith were buoyant, spreading out into the streets to celebrate. Most congregated around the gates, which although battered fiercely had held with only some stonework damage. Catapults had also marred the walls, though no significant structural damage had been inflicted. Repairs would see to these in no time and once the grass had grown back outside the walls there would be no sign that the battle had ever taken place. Some wives would sleep alone in their beds tonight and some children would never be held in their father's arms again but fewer than it could have been. The city would provide for those left behind.
Aragorn stood on the battlements and watched Éomer and his riders head towards the city. The barricades had already been removed and the gates were being opened with loud protests from their overstressed hinges. Aragorn made a mental note to get those repaired as soon as possible. Perhaps, he mused as he eyed the loosened stonework, he could persuade some Dwarves to come to the city. Some people might complain about outsourcing labour from the city but it would serve to strengthen ties between Minas Tirith and Dwarven communities.
Stray thoughts dashed across Aragorn's mind, wondering just when he had started thinking like this; like a leader, in fact.
The train of thought was dispelled as the riders came through the gates. He hurried down to the steps to greet them.
'Éomer!' he called. 'I am so glad to see you.' He grinned. 'And grateful, of course.'
'You can thank the old wizard,' said Éomer, reaching over to grasp Aragorn's hand. 'He's been keeping an eye on things.'
All around them the riders of Rohan were being thanked by the people of Minas Tirith. The chatter was interrupted by the ringing of the gatehouse bell. Everyone watched as Boromir stepped out onto the battlements.
'Citizens of Minas Tirith!' he announced. The attention of the entire crowd was immediately his. 'We have won the day and that is cause for rejoicing,' he continued, 'but not without cost. Brave men died to protect this city and they will be honoured. My father also – the Steward of this city – was killed by those fell beasts.'
A murmur ran through the crowd. Several of the men present doffed their helmets in respect. Aragorn wanted to protest placing the power-crazed Denethor in with those who had died in battle but a look at Boromir and Faramir quelled that thought. He had been their father after all.
'Times have been dark in Minas Tirith,' Boromir went on, 'we all know that. But it seems that that is now behind us.' He walked down the steps to stand beside Aragorn. 'You have seen how this man organised our defence and fought beside us all to secure the safety of the city. Fellow citizens, legends have risen today! Great eagles flew into battle on our behalf. Orcs were sent fleeing with the hoofbeats of the riders of Rohan in their ears. And this man who stands beside me now is no ordinary man. He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, descendant of Kings and the rightful monarch of this city.'
To Aragorn's surprise Boromir dropped to his knees and bowed his head.
'My liege,' he said, 'it will be the greatest honour and privilege to serve you.'
Before Aragorn could respond Faramir stepped forward from the crowd and knelt as well. After that it was only a matter of time before every man was kneeling to pay their allegiance to their new king. Aragorn gazed out over them, smiling briefly on seeing the one figure still standing.
Greenleaf, who would bow to no man, stood half-hidden in the shadow of a building. On seeing Aragorn's look he smiled too and inclined his head a little.
After that there was a lot to do. The coronation was set for a week later and there was much to do before then. Aragorn immediately lifted the curfew and the celebrations continued long into the night. Along with Boromir and Faramir, Aragorn worked on removing the restrictions placed on the citizens by Denethor. The Blacktunics were given over to Captain Welch's tender care, either to make proper guards of them or to imprison them for their crimes.
The dungeons under the city were also opened. Aragorn personally assisted with the long task of releasing each prisoner, finding out their names and seeing that they received proper care. Welch was there when Private Godfrey was let out and lent a hand to the hobbling man as he was led out into the sunlight. A frighteningly high number of people were released though it seemed that more were still missing. They were most likely dead.
Thanks to a quick palantír call to U, who really did know everyone, a group of Dwarves arrived a few days after the battle. They started work on the gates straightaway alongside the masons of the city. Greenleaf had a cheerful reunion with Gimli who insisted on hearing the entire tale over a mug or five of ale. His expression had grown very dark on hearing of the time the Elf had spent in the Blacktunics' cells. The two of them then spent a certain amount of time in a room with ex-Captain Grant – rather longer than the initial five minutes Greenleaf had asked for – and had come out looking much happier.
Aragorn's most pleasant surprise came the day before the coronation. He was standing with Greenleaf and Gimli looking out of the city when a rider approached who they all recognised.
'Arwen!' Aragorn exclaimed, running forwards as she came up the steps. They embraced closely, kissing in an almost indecent hurry. When the embrace threatened to last for rather too long Greenleaf and Gimli turned away.
'We really should go,' muttered Gimli.
'But propriety bids us stay,' said Greenleaf with a mischievous mock-pomposity. 'They are not yet wed.'
'Oh, what to do?' asked Gimli, picking up on the fun. 'Such a quandary.'
'I know!' said Greenleaf. 'Let's talk about the weather.'
'Yes, yes,' agreed Gimli, nodding happily, 'let's talk about the weather.'
Aragorn and Arwen paid them no attention, being too engrossed in each other. Aragorn's arms clasped tightly around Arwen and held her very close.
'I was worried about you, my love,' she whispered.
'How beautifully blue the sky is,' remarked Greenleaf. 'The sun has risen very high.'
'I hope it may continue fine,' said Gimli, leaning on his axe.
'I missed you too, my darling,' murmured Aragorn.
'Yet it rained but yesterday,' said Greenleaf (which was true; there had been a short, almost inconsequential shower).
'I've been following what's going on as much as was possible,' said Arwen, gently brushing Aragorn's hair away from his face.
'Tomorrow it may pour again,' commented Gimli.
'I hear the country wants some rain,' added Greenleaf.
'I am so much happier at seeing you again, my love,' said Aragorn, stealing another kiss.
'But people say, I don't know why, that we will have a warm July,' continued Gimli.
'A warm July?' echoed Greenleaf disbelievingly.
Aragorn had had enough. He turned to glare at the pair. Greenleaf and Gimli stood side-by-side gazing innocently up at the sky, which was indeed beautifully blue.
'Have you quite finished?' asked Aragorn.
'We were only having a civilised discussion,' said Greenleaf.
'On the current state of affairs, meteorologically speaking,' added Gimli.
'Oh, you're just feeling left out, aren't you?' said Arwen.
She walked over to Greenleaf, took his face in both hands and kissed him for a long moment. When she pulled away she was smiling.
Greenleaf grinned. 'You know, Aragorn,' he said, 'I may come and visit more often.'
'Don't think you're getting any more,' warned Arwen, tapping him on the nose, 'that was just while I'm still a free woman.'
'Hmph. Where's mine then?' complained Gimli. He got a pat on the head for his trouble.
'Just to let you know what you're missing out on,' continued Arwen, still looking at Greenleaf. 'You're too late now, Legolas.'
'Nonsense.' Greenleaf laughed. 'You two were made for each other. There's no need to worry about me, dear. No need at all.'
It was after the coronation that Aragorn sought out Greenleaf, who was standing outside on a balcony. The celebration went on inside and nobody saw the King slip out. Greenleaf stood out in the moonlight and shone with the starlight. Aragorn paused a moment to look. It was rare that he ever saw the Elf like this: quiet, still and peaceful. Whenever Aragorn was with him they were usually on a mission and Greenleaf always had an intense, concentrated look then. Now, Greenleaf had an unfocused gaze and his eyes were glittering. Aragorn watched as the lightest breeze lifted strands of the Elf's hair one by one; each glinted a silvery-gold.
'Are you planning on standing there all night?'
The question came from Greenleaf without him even turning his head. Aragorn smiled and joined him on the balcony.
'I was considering it.'
'What, with all your adoring public waiting inside?'
'I'm sure they've had enough of me by now.' Aragorn grimaced. 'And I've had enough of some of them. Dignitaries and wealthy folk from all over Middle-earth. Even your dear Elliane.'
Greenleaf shuddered. 'Don't remind me. I got pounced on as soon as she arrived. Give me wraiths, give me orcs, give me crazed captains but keep that … that woman away from me!'
Aragorn laughed aloud. 'Ah, I'm sure she just wants to be friends.'
'I don't think so.'
Greenleaf pushed himself up to sit on the stone balcony rail, facing Aragorn. His hand came up to rub absentmindedly at a fading bruise on his jaw. Its purple was just beginning to turn yellow at the edges.
'How're you feeling?' asked Aragorn. 'Still sore?'
'A bit. Nothing worse than I've had before and nothing that'll scar. I have other sadistic bastards to thank for that sort of thing.'
'And other than physically?'
'I'm sure I don't know what you mean.'
Greenleaf was, of course, lying. Grant's cold eyes would keep him awake for more than a few nights to come but no one needed to know that. That was his private business and nobody else's. Not even G's. His demons were his own and he guarded them selfishly.
A screech sounded and a giant pair of wings fanned the pair. Gwaihir, who had stayed for the coronation, sailed over them calling his farewell. They called their goodbyes back to him and waved as he passed the city wall. He was quickly lost to distance. Greenleaf watched him for longer than Aragorn, turning away only when the giant eagle was a dot even to his eyes.
'He promised to drop by occasionally to see how the city is,' said Aragorn. 'It's very kind of him.'
'Is everybody being so supportive?'
'Oh, yes. Boromir is taking over the post of Steward though now, of course, he'll be assisting me in running the city rather than doing it himself. I think he prefers that but he'd never say it. Faramir I'm making Commander-in-Chief of the army and the guards. It's similar to what he did under his father but with much more freedom, of course. And for Commander of the guards, though he doesn't know it yet, Welch.'
Greenleaf smiled. 'Oh, he will be pleased. "More paperwork," he'll grumble but Bethan'll be thrilled. And he'll love it really.'
'That's what I thought.' Aragorn looked pleased. 'I might as well make people happy.'
'I knew there would be a reason that would finally make you come round to accepting this. Now I discover it's philanthropy.'
Mock-scowling, Aragorn moved over to cuff Greenleaf playfully round the head but changed his mind halfway and pulled him into a hug instead. The Elf tensed a little – Aragorn hoped it was only that he had accidentally pressed some of Greenleaf's remaining bruises – before loosely and carefully returning it.
'Thank you,' muttered Aragorn into Greenleaf's shoulder. 'Really, thank you.'
'Just doing my job, man.'
'Far more than that, Elf. I think you did more than beyond the call of duty.'
'G would have had my guts for garters if this hadn't come off and you know it.' Greenleaf threw his arms up. 'Ah, to have a part of me adorning those fair legs!'
Aragorn snorted. 'Would your guts go with her legs? I'm not sure the colour would quite match.'
Greenleaf tossed his head. 'I'll have you know, man, that Elf-guts go with anything!'
'I'll have to remember to tell Arwen that when she's redecorating the citadel. And I'll tell her you volunteered yours especially.'
Their laughter, cheery and natural, subsided gently. Aragorn caught Greenleaf's hand between his and clasped it tightly.
'It is sad to say goodbye,' he said quietly.
'To the Service?' said Greenleaf deliberately. 'I am sure that you will find challenges a-plenty in running a kingdom. And G will simply have to find some other man to use as troll bait.'
'Boromir expressed some interest in the Service but I will need him here, at least initially.' Aragorn gave Greenleaf a look. 'And I didn't mean that. I meant … oh, come and visit, won't you?'
'If I have time.' Greenleaf shrugged. 'It depends on what I am doing.'
'What are you planning?' Aragorn paused, recognising the glint in his friend's eyes. 'Wait, let me guess. Saruman?'
Greenleaf nodded. 'He needs to be stopped. I should have killed him a long time ago.'
'You certainly tried hard enough.'
'Then I shall have to try harder.'
Aragorn sighed. 'And what if G does not agree to this?'
'Then she shall have to come and fetch me herself.' Greenleaf's eyes were dangerous and held no sign of his earlier peacefulness. 'I will be the one to find him.'
'And kill him?'
'Of course. With her orders or without them.'
Aragorn regarded him, noting the set jaw and tense lips. Greenleaf had clearly decided his course and nothing would sway him from his determined path.
'Well, be careful.'
Laughter followed that. 'Aren't I always?'
No answer was forthcoming in that growing darkness. Moonlight and starlight competed with the growing number of celebratory torches that were being lit. Night fell over the city of the King but with the promise of a bright new tomorrow.
Endnote: So, is that it for Greenleaf? Will he ever get that tricky wizard for good? I'm afraid the short answer is: I don't know. I have notes for a sequel. I even have a plot. It all depends a bit on real life concerns though. Don't write off the idea completely. In fact, feel free to give me a poke if I leave it far too long. After all, that's how this story finally got put up.
Meanwhile, Ringfinger, the first tale in the series is being re-edited (why did I think I needed all those commas?) and spiffed up to make its debut on livejournal (link to my lj is on my profile). There will also be cover art and chapter header art to make it even better.
Thank you all for reading! Hopefully I'll see you again at some point.