Thanks to the Aragorn Angst group for the prompt that led to the bunny that led to me FINALLY figuring out what to write for Gwynnyd's very belated birthday fiction.
Thanks to Rhyselle for her beta and great advice.
A Beggar of Distinction
Aragorn was aware of being watched, prickly sensations on the back of his neck making him feel uncomfortable. It was not a surprise for it was his wedding to Arwen, and since he had reclaimed the throne, he had drawn many looks. As one who had dwelt in the shadows for so long, it was a bit unnerving but the good far outweighed the bad. He was proud of his accomplishments so far and had so much he wished to do. He knew that with Arwen by his side he would be able to do more healing in Gondor. She strengthened him, supported him.
Watching her dancing with Elrond now, Aragorn smiled. He could not remember a time she had looked fairer. Her smile lit up the room and warmed his heart. Seeing that she was happily occupied at the present time, he glanced discreetly around the room to find out what was causing his feeling of unease. His friends and wedding guests joyously drank, danced and sang. Everyone seemed to be in the festive spirit fitting for the occasion. Then Aragorn saw him standing behind a pillar in the back of the great hall. The other man's glance quickly darted towards Arwen dancing with her father as soon as Aragorn took notice of him.
Instantly alert, Aragorn assessed the man. He appeared to be a beggar; poor cloth, dirty hair and face. He wondered how the beggar had come into the hall without drawing attention to himself from the guards. No one appeared to notice him.
The stranger's interest in his wife making Aragorn uneasy, he watched him slip out of sight, through a side door. Trying to be both subtle and quick, Aragorn moved through the fringes of the crowd, attempting to blend in before sliding out the door closest to him, after waving away his guards with a murmured excuse of 'nature calling'. The beggar had darted around the corner at the back of the building and by the time Aragorn caught up to him close to the tunnel, he was slightly winded.
"Halt!" Aragorn ordered and the beggar stopped but did not turn around. "Who are you?"
"Merely a traveler, my lord." The man replied after a moment, his voice hoarse. Aragorn suspected that he had not spoken much lately.
"Turn around," Aragorn commanded in a gentle tone, sensing the beggar's hesitance to face him. He did not want to scare him away if he was merely curious but he did not like the way the man had been watching Arwen. The man turned slowly and even though he was taller than Aragorn, which alone was unusual, he seemed diminished. "What is your name? Why are you here?"
The beggar was silent for a few long moments before looking directly at the king. Realizing then that he was an elf, not a man, Aragorn became even more intrigued. The elf's eyes were bright and wise, but the sorrow was written on his face.
"I just wanted to see his children, and the man he loved as his own son, who would sire his grandchildren and reunite these lands to their former glory. I wanted to see him happy again," the dark haired elf answered, "Before the sea calls him home. I have watched his children from afar when I was able but never dared to get so close. I could not risk it before but now, I did not want to lose my chance to say farewell to him even if he never saw me."
The more he spoke, the more aware Aragorn was of his voice, gruff but slowly warming and smoothing out. The rich resonance still subtly there, though buried under infrequent use or perhaps ruined from some unspeakable tragedy.
The elf began to turn away from Aragorn, then hesitated. He reached into the rags he wore then held out a small gem on a silver chain to the king. "I must go before… Take this, a present for your new bride. It was my mother's; one of the few things I still have from Valinor."
As he took the gift, the King's eyes dropped to focus on the pendant, and he stared at the scars on the once-elegant hand. Realization of just who he was speaking to dawned and he looked up sharply, his grey eyes wide. Speechless, Aragorn watched the elf disappear into the darkness, but he did not try to stop him, sensing that it was the last thing Maglor wanted.