I bet very few of you were expecting an update as soon as this one. What can I say? I just couldn't leave you hanging after that last chapter and the review response was incredible. I was simply inspired to write and finish off this story. That makes this story the second one I have finished. Yay! I hope you like this ending but I will say now and at the bottom that there will be a slight wait until the sequel. I would like to focus on my other stories for a while but I promise that one day I will write a good sequel that actually has a plot behind it. :P
Warnings: there is a possibilty that you will cry.
The Immortal Hero
It took one week for Frodo and Sam to awaken from their healing sleep, and by then it had become known that Tegalad never returned to Edoras with the others. Aragorn had ignored the preparations for his upcoming coronation in favor of sending people to look for the missing child. The only clue they had about his whereabouts was the bag Frodo clutched even unconscious, no one had been able to remove it from him. They could only wait until he woke up.
Éowyn in particular was feeling guilty as she had been charged with the elfling's safe return in Aragorn's absence, but had ignored it in favor of joining the war. Merry and Pippin were holed up at Frodo and Sam's side, waiting for them to awaken and becoming more and more depressed the longer there was no word of Tegalad's whereabouts. Gimli and Legolas spent their time helping civilians recover from the battle, moving away rubble and distracting the children from the horror that they had witnessed. Gandalf said that he would wait until Frodo awoke before he went out to look for the elfling, though while he waited he would fly with the eagles to watch the land.
Riders of the Rohirrim were camped out in Gondor until after the coronation to recover and assist with the recovery effort. They were all sad as they had spent some time with the elfling and even spoken with him on occasion. Éomer in particular was worrying about the small boy and for a short time had actually given Éowyn the cold shoulder. It hadn't lasted for long as they were both also grieving for their uncle's death during the battle. All from Rohan were grieving for King Théoden's death but he had died on the battlefield, a proud warrior and a good leader. His body would be returned to Rohan to be buried alongside his son.
Boromir was also grieving for his father's death with his brother Faramir. Pippin had told him the story of how the Steward had been mad in the end, choosing to set himself and his barely alive son on fire rather than face the armies of Mordor. Boromir had been particularly upset when he found out that his father had at first thought him dead, and then a traitor when he chose to accompany Aragorn. His father had died before they could be reunited and that is what tore at Boromir the most…his father had thought him a traitor when he died and nothing he could do could change that.
Hedwig had flown from Lothlorien to be with the survivors, but it seemed that her presence caused more pain than good. Many who knew how attached Tegalad was with the owl saw her arrival as a sign that he was dead. Others clung to the hope that she was waiting for him to return, that he was just struggling in the wide lands but still alive.
Few people held onto that hope though.
One week after the Battle at the Gate Sam opened his eyes, much to the joy of everyone present. He refused to speak about what had happened on the mountain, or where they had gotten Tegalad's bag from, until Frodo woke up. But the haunting look in his eyes, and the appearance of tears had done little to assure anyone that all was well. The hobbit had instead told his audience about how the creature Gollum led them to Mordor when they were lost. He didn't hide his disgust of Gollum, but had wondered near the end of his altered tale what had happened to him.
One day after Sam woke up, Frodo awoke and his first reaction was to pull the tattered bag closer to him and cry. Sam had instantly pulled his friend into a hug but said nothing to reassure the others in the room. Frodo eventually pulled back from his friend and stared at the bag in his hands. Sam didn't move away but gently informed his friend who was in the room with them.
Merry and Pippin bounced onto the bed, both relieved that their friends were awake but concerned about how Frodo had reacted to seeing the bag in his hands. Gimli and Legolas took some chairs near the bed while Gandalf stayed at the end of the bed, ready for what he was about to be told. Boromir sat next to Pippin and ruffled his hair affectionately while Aragorn knelt on the floor beside Frodo saying nothing. Frodo smiled shakily at the former ranger and looked up at Gandalf.
"He said you were alive," he whispered.
"Who did?" Gandalf asked curiously. Frodo smiled without amusement.
"Tegalad," was the answer. "I don't think we would have made it to the end without him."
"Tegalad was with you?" Aragorn asked urgently. "Where is he now? Why wasn't he with you when Gandalf picked you up?"
"Tegalad stopped me from falling to my death when I first saw him," Sam replied, ignoring the questions from the ranger. "He shocked me good, and convinced me to go back for Mr. Frodo. Gollum had told him that I wasn't to be trusted and Mr. Frodo believed him, sending me away. From there everything went down hill fast."
"Sméagol led me into a cave covered in spider webs," Frodo picked up. "I thought he was trying to help us, to help me, but I was wrong. He led me there to die. I'm pretty sure that if Tegalad hadn't appeared when he had I would have died and the Ring would have been in the hands of the enemy instantly…we would have lost."
"For a while there we actually thought that Tegalad had died," Sam said when it became obvious that his friend wouldn't continue. "The giant spider poisoned him. He told us to take his bag and destroy the Ring. He went limp after that and we hid when we heard some orcs coming. We overheard them saying that the spider, they called her 'She', that she would poison her victims so that they were paralysed and when they woke up She would then eat them. Quite disgusting really. But then the orcs took Tegalad and we decided to follow them."
"He found us first though," Frodo said with a smile. "We were tired and couldn't keep up with the orcs. Tegalad apparently freed himself, saw us walking into a trap, appeared in front of us and took us to a cave in a flash of flames before he passed out. I don't know what they did to him but his shirt was red with his own blood. He also slept for around three hours before he woke up and told us some interesting stories."
"Interesting? How so?" Boromir asked. He had seen how the hobbits' faces had dropped in sorrow and guessed that whatever had been discussed hadn't been pleasant.
"He told us what happened before he came to us," Sam explained. "He was particularly upset that he couldn't say goodbye to you all." He looked straight at Aragorn with a slight frown. "Was heartbroken when you told him to stay away, thought that he wasn't welcome, that you didn't like him anymore."
"Then we found out how he actually saw himself," Frodo added. "He called himself a freak, someone incapable of being loved. His Aunt and Uncle had drilled this into his head since before he could talk. We think he was also abused there, he seemed used to being in pain."
"We guessed that he had been abused when he was younger," Gimli stated gruffly. "Stuff the lad had let slip when talking with us. He hasn't had a lot of people love him."
"He knows his name, the one his parents gave him," Frodo continued. "We don't know what it was but he stumbled over the names. He's trying to forget his past, he was in a war. He was tortured in that war. But still he set aside his own feelings to help us; he nearly died to make sure that we would survive…"
"So he was with you to the end? Where is he now?" Aragorn asked desperately. The man had tears in his eyes. He already knew what had happened and was hoping for any words from the hobbits that it wasn't true. Both Sam and Frodo looked at him sadly before Sam continued on with their story.
"We made our way towards the mountain when we were somewhat recovered from journey. Tegalad kept pushing us forward, not even considering giving up. Without him we may have ended up going the long way round and taking another day. As it was, Tegalad let us towards the many camps with the intention of going through them."
"We had found some disguises after we woke up," Frodo interrupted. "Couldn't find anything small enough for Tegalad but we managed to through something together."
"Yes," Sam agreed. "I think he meant for us to laugh. He did play up that pout of his. He was definitely a born leader. Anyway, he led us to the edge of the encampment just as the orcs started to move towards the Gate. We couldn't believe our luck!"
"That was us," Legolas stated. "We figured you could use some help so we lured out the orcs to give you a free passage. I'm glad it worked."
"I think Tegalad knew it was you guys," Frodo confided. "He told me that he was 'just having a look' when he held a ball of fire in his hands. Don't know how he did it, but I think he knew that you were all out there at the end."
"We were separated when we got closer to the mountain," Sam continued. "The Eye apparently felt the need to quickly look over the empty lands and I don't know what happened, but Tegalad just suddenly ordered us to go on before he disappeared. We didn't see him again until we were in Mt. Doom, and by then we didn't really have time to talk."
"The Ring managed to overpower me," Frodo confessed sadly. Sam put his arm across his shoulders. "My mind went dark while I was in there, but I could feel my body moving around. I tried to fight it, but I guess I just gave up. Then I heard Tegalad, he was telling me to not give up, to fight. There was just something about his voice, the power that it carried, that encouraged me to fight it. I threw the Ring over the edge but the darkness in my mind was still there. I think Tegalad pulled me back from the edge and thrust his bag in my hands."
"He told us to tell you, Aragorn, that he was happy when he was with you," Sam whispered. "He's never had anyone to look after him like a parent does, but I guess he saw you as his dad, and he wanted you to know that."
"Why wasn't he with you?" Aragorn asked with tears in his eyes. "Why wasn't he able to come and tell me this himself?"
"He was fighting something," Frodo stated sadly. "Even though I had destroyed the Ring, Sauron wasn't dead. It was like he had attached himself to something else. Tegalad had shadows in his eyes, he told us not to look back. And then he jumped."
"There was nothing we could do," Sam continued when Frodo buried his face against his knees. "One minute he was there, the next he wasn't and the mountain was about to erupt. We ran as fast as we could, but I can't really remember what happened after that."
"He's dead?" Aragorn asked weakly, all his strength seemingly disappearing leaving behind a devastated man. "Are you sure?"
"He jumped off the path," Frodo confirmed, his voice slightly muffled. "I saw him sink into the lava. There's no way he could survive that. I'm so sorry!"
Aragorn leant back away from the bed looking like his life had just been taken from him. He felt someone place their hands on his shoulders but he didn't have the strength to turn and look at them. He didn't see as Frodo slid out of the bed and sat down in front of him, but he did feel the bag being pressed into his hands.
"He would have wanted you to have this," Frodo whispered before turning away back to his friends. He wanted to hear about what had happened to the others to get his mind off the scream that still echoed in his mind. A scream that came from Tegalad, but was not in Tegalad's voice.
Aragorn stood up shakily and left the room, tears flowing freely down his cheeks. None stopped him from leaving, though some left as well to come to terms with what they had learnt and to pass on the message to the others who were still waiting for news of Tegalad.
And in the corner, invisible to the human eye, stood a small boy with reddish black hair and emerald eyes.
Tegalad found himself floating in darkness. Throwing himself into the fires of Mt. Doom probably hadn't been the smartest thing to do but he had already felt the controlling mind of Sauron settle over his own. The destruction of the Ring had strengthened his hold and Tegalad knew that he wouldn't have lasted long…so he made sure that Sauron was trapped in his mind and he leapt into oblivion.
The fire was hot, and it destroyed his body instantly, but it had been like a hug from a friend not seen in a long time. Tegalad had loved it. With the destruction of his body and the freeing of his soul, Sauron had no links to the living world and was forced into his own oblivion, never again to make his presence known in Middle Earth.
Tegalad was actually a little disappointed with his death. He'd been hoping to see everyone he had loved: his parents, Sirius, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, everyone who had died, but he was alone. The one thing that he feared above all else was being alone, and here he was, doomed for an eternity of solitude.
"You did a very brave thing you know?" a voice suddenly stated in elvish, shocking him terribly. He spun around in the darkness desperately, looking for where the speaker was. It was hard to tell whether or not the speaker was male or female, young or old. The only thing he could pull from the voice was that it was powerful.
"Where are you?" he asked in the same language. "Am I dead?"
"Dead? It depends on you definition of dead," the voice replied amused. "For example, your living body has been destroyed, so in that sense you are dead, but your soul is still bound to the living world, so in that case you could be considered as being alive."
"So I'm stuck in the middle like this for forever?" Tegalad asked sadly. The voice laughed softly.
"It wasn't our intention for you to do that, you know? It was why Galadriel gave you that necklace. In fact, that necklace is the only reason that you have a chance to return. Had you not been wearing it you would have died and gone on to Valinor."
"So, you're giving me a new body?"
"In a way," the voice said hesitantly. "It will be somewhat the same, but different as well as no two people are the same. We won't be able to control where you end up when you return though, the Gateway doesn't allow it. You will appear where you were meant to be."
"Do I have to go back?" Tegalad asked "It would be so much easier if I just stayed dead."
"You truly believe that?" the voice continued. Tegalad imagined that he could hear the tears in their eyes even though he was still blind.
"Why would I want to put them through all that trouble when they now can just go on with their lives and not worry about me? They would be happier without me."
Tegalad waited for the voice to respond, and as such was unprepared for the sudden brightening of his solitude. Blinking his eyes in alarm he found himself in what appeared to be a hospital room. He gasped when he recognised the Fellowship, alive and well, standing around a bed. Frodo and Sam appeared to be telling their story of their travels, and his part in it. He could see how sad everyone was when Frodo told them he was dead, but he was devastated looking at Aragorn's depressed form.
The light faded shortly after Aragorn fled the room in tears and the darkness returned. Tegalad cried silently, he hadn't thought that his death would actually cause them to be that sad; especially Aragorn who he had thought didn't care for him as much as he wanted the man to. The feeling of warm arms encircled him and he clung to the offered comfort like a drowning man would cling to a life preserver.
"You mean a lot to them," the voice murmured. "Your death is breaking them. Particularly Aragorn as he was looking forward to coming back to you at the end of the war. In that last battle, that was the only thing that kept him going."
"Will they recover?" Tegalad asked softly.
"In time, but they will never recover completely."
"What about Aragorn? Will he be alright?"
"There is a chance that he will recover," was the comforting reply. "But I know that if you were to go back he would become a King everyone would admire, and not one that ruled with an empty heart. It is also possible that he may have more children with the woman he loves, but you would always be first in his heart."
"Will there be anymore fighting?" Tegalad whispered almost inaudibly.
"There is no such thing as a peaceful society, it is something that everyone wants but because of conflicting opinions, not everyone will be completely satisfied with how things are run. But I can promise that there won't be anymore wars for a while, at least, not in Middle Earth."
"What do you mean?"
"That is something that I will tell you another time," was the evasive answer. "But for now there is one more thing you must see before you make up your mind…Middle Earth or Valinor."
The darkness faded away again and Tegalad found himself under a white tree in the middle of a courtyard. He assumed that he was still in Minas Tirith as he had heard soldiers talk of a white tree, The White Tree of Gondor. He looked around curiously and it wasn't until he saw Aragorn walking towards him that he realised this was who he was meant to see. The soon-to-be King was crying still, and he held Tegalad's bag in his hands. It looked like he had just come from the hospital but no one appeared to have followed him. The man leant back on the tree and slid to the ground, the bag landing between his razed knees.
And he cried.
Tegalad had more tears in his eyes as he watched the man who had taken care of him, protected him and taught him how to speak Westron, cried such heart-wrenching sobs that he wanted nothing more than to lean forward and wrap his arms around him. However, he found himself unable to move. Only his head could move, but not his arms and no sound would emerge past his lips. He was forced to listen to the man whisper his name and mumble apologies after apologies. He was so focused on watching the man that he hadn't noticed Boromir appear until the Gondorian had settled himself on the ground and pulled the dark haired man into a hug.
"I swore I'd protect him, I promised him that I wouldn't let anything bad happen to him!" Aragorn told his companion between sobs. "And I wasn't there for him! He died and I wasn't there!"
"You can't blame yourself for that," Boromir said softly.
"He died thinking I hated him!"
"No, he didn't," Boromir said firmly. "He passed on that message for you didn't he? He was thanking you for taking care of him. Now why would he do that if he thought that you hated him?"
"I didn't let him say goodbye," Aragorn whispered. "And then I was never able to say goodbye to him. I didn't even know he had died, that he wasn't in Edoras where I thought he was until I saw Frodo with this bag. Even then I didn't want to believe it."
"You should look in the bag," the Gondorian prompted. "It does you no good to just stare at it."
Aragorn stared at the bloodstained bag for a long time. Boromir said nothing else, merely offering his silent support and comfort. Very slowly, as if afraid that everything would become more real or disappear if he did it too fast, Aragorn opened the top of the bag and started to pull out what was inside. A dagger, an elvish cloak, spare clothing, an empty water bag, food crumbs and a wooden carving.
Tegalad smiled when he saw his lightning bolt carving, but that smile became a frown when he heard Aragorn's choked laughed. The man had started crying again as he delicately picked up the necklace as if it were made from the finest glass instead of wood. Boromir echoed the laugh and brushed his hand against his wet eyes.
"Gimli will be proud, and I bet Tegalad was too," he said. "Lad was working on that thing every spare moment he had after Gimli showed him how to carve. I think he worked on that thing more than he slept."
"He has a talent with carving," Aragorn murmured. He slipped the necklace over his head and covered it with his hand. Tegalad laughed through his tears at how highly the man regarded the small wooden carving. The man put the rest of the belongings back in the bag and held it to his chest.
"I don't want him to be gone Boromir," he whispered. "I want him here with me, telling me what he did while we were at war. I want him to call me his dad again, I want to call him my son to his face. I don't think I ever did that. I don't know how to tell Haldir and Vanya. They love that little boy. Vanya's with a child, I don't want her to lose it in her grief."
"We'll think of something," Boromir replied. "You can tell them after you coronation."
"I don't want to be King Boromir," Aragorn murmured.
"It is what you were born to be," was the firm statement. "You must do this for Tegalad. Make this place a better place for children. Save any who need saving and never become a tyrant. Do it for Tegalad."
Tegalad wasn't able to hear the rest of the conversation as he was pulled back into the darkness. He stayed silent as he cried. The arms came back around him but Tegalad was too distraught to really notice it. It was only after he had calmed down several minutes later that the voice spoke again.
"Have you made your choice?" it asked. "Do you want to go on to Valinor, or do you want to return to Middle Earth? My daughter gave you a similar choice once before, and I now offer it again because it is your right to decide."
"If I go to Valinor, would I be with those I love again?" Tegalad asked in a barely audible voice.
"Your parents, your godfather and any other who has died in your former world would be waiting for you, yes. You would have a completely peaceful life, free from war for the rest of eternity. That is what awaits you in Valinor. However, what awaits you in Middle Earth is a fresh start. You bring light to many people, give them a reason to continue on. You won't be the youngest elfling in existence for much longer, though if you remained dead I don't know what would happen to the carrier."
"Vanya," Tegalad murmured in horror. He had forgotten that the beautiful elf was pregnant. "Does that mean she will lose the child if I don't go back?"
"No," the voice replied firmly. "Whether or not you go back will not alter the fate of the child. I do not tell you this to convince you to return to Middle Earth, but to let you know that you won't be alone for eternity if you were to return. Many of the elves have already fled Middle Earth's shores, but just as many have also stayed to offer assistance. A time of peace is now upon Middle Earth, and it is now a time where miracles can occur. The choice is yours, but you cannot take forever to decide. Time grows short as your soul has been split from the living realm for a long time now."
"Will Sauron still be attached to me?"
"No, that parasite will never haunt the living world with his presence again, on that you have my word."
Tegalad stayed silent for several minutes. On the one hand he could finally be with his parents and Sirius, people he had longed to be with ever since he had heard about them. But he didn't know them. He knew Sirius slightly, but he had always thought that the man had seen him as James' replacement, not as Harry. Yet on the other hand he could return to Middle Earth, to Aragorn and the rest of the Fellowship. He could return to a man who had proved that he cared about him, him and not his father. He could be happy with him.
"Send me home," he said firmly. "Send me home to Middle Earth."
Tegalad opened his eyes slowly. The brightness of the day was in stark contrast to the darkness he had been kept in since his "death". Slowly he sat up and looked around. He vaguely recognised where he was but he couldn't be sure. He may have passed this particular forest on their way to Dunharrow, but then again this forest may be Fangorn Forest. Either way, he really didn't have a single idea of how to get to Minas Tirith, or ever what direction it was in.
Slowly he stood up and carefully walked forward. It felt as if his legs were as strong as limp spaghetti and just as likely to collapse under him. He was vaguely embarrassed to note that besides the jeweled necklace Lady Galadriel had given him, he was wearing nothing. It was then that he noticed it.
There were no scars.
There was no sign of what had been done to him, the only remnants were in his memory and not on his physical body. The words on the back of his hand had been erased like they had never been, and the various scars that had crisscrossed against his chest and back had vanished. His skin was pale, but not white pale, more like it had been tan once but he hadn't been outside in a while so it had faded. He could still see his ribs, and assumed that that would never change. His upbringing had lowered his need for food and nothing anyone did would be able to change that.
He hurried over to where a small creak ran not far from where he was standing so that he could see him face. A youthful face stared back at him, one that looked a little too thin to be healthy, but not overly horrible to look at. A few more healthy meals and that would be taken care of. His ears were still pointed, indicating that he was in fact still an elfling. There was only a slight blemish to his otherwise clear complexion, and that was situated on the back of his right shoulder, the size being just slightly smaller than his palm. From what he could see in his reflection, it was of a triangle with a straight line from the top to the bottom, and a circle touching the centre of each line on the triangle.
It was a symbol he had seen once before, in his former world, but he couldn't remember where. He shrugged his shoulders and resumed looking at his "new" face. He was glad that he had managed to keep his green eyes, they were the only part of him that he really loved as they connected him to his mother. His hair brushed his shoulders and shimmered in the light. Black, red and even a hint of green could be seen as he tilted his head to the side to catch it in the sunlight.
There was one other thing that he felt he needed to test before venturing out from his hideaway…his magic.
It was then that something strange happened, he connected with his core and it wasn't what he expected. Instead of the various swirls of red and yellow, the colour of his elemental auras, he also came into contact with a shimmering ball of pure white energy linked in with his elemental powers. Elated, him cast the first spell he could think of that had nothing to do with his elemental abilities.
A rush of water burst from a point in front of his hand to fall into the creak. Tegalad cheered loudly when he realised what his ability to conjure water meant. His magic was back. The magic he had given up on ever being able to access again was now once again in his grasp. He transfigured some nearby rocks into a pair of pants and a shirt so that he would look halfway decent, and left his clearing.
His elation dimmed down somewhat when he came across what appeared to be an archway covered by a shimmering veil. He recognised it as the same one in the Department of Mysteries, and it was the last thing he had expected to see in Middle Earth.
"A Gateway," he murmured. "Does it lead back to Earth? And why is it here?"
Confused, and a little concerned, Tegalad turned his back on the Veil and the whispering voices and walked away. He needed to get out of the forest and get directions to Minas Tirith.
The walk wasn't really that long, half an hour at most, before Tegalad spotted a passing rider. He hid in the shadows so that he couldn't be seen and stared at the rider until he could make out who it was. The shadows along the path had made it somewhat difficult, but when the pure white horse, and the just as white rider finally cam into view Tegalad sprung from his hiding place directly in their path. It was lucky for him that the horse had only been walking, because if he had been going that much faster then he would surely have been trampled on. As it was, Tegalad watched in awe as the horse reared up slightly on its hind legs before landing hard on the ground.
"My word," the rider breathed as he stared at Tegalad. "Tegalad? Is that really you?"
"Gandalf, you won't believe the story I have for you," Tegalad declared as the White Wizard dismounted. Gandalf sank to the ground in front of him and hesitantly, as if unsure what he was seeing was true, he rested his hand on the elfling's shoulder. When he was confirmed as a solid being, he was pulled into a hug worthy of Mrs. Weasley. Tegalad clung to Gandalf, not realising till that moment how much he had missed the Istari.
"You've been gone for a good two weeks," Gandalf murmured into his ear. "I was told that you had been killed in the eruption. Frodo was much distressed when he told us that. How is it that you are alive? And why did you think it necessary to jump into the fires?"
"Sauron wasn't just tied to the Ring," Tegalad explained softly. "He said that he would possess me if the Ring were destroyed, because then he would be able to take over the world with the body of an elfling, a body many would hesitate in harming. When I looked into the Stone he saw me as the perfect candidate and created a link in my mind. I couldn't let him win, so when the Ring was destroyed, I destroyed the one thing keeping him alive…me."
"-am I alive now?" Tegalad finished the question with a smile as he pulled back. "The Valar were very grateful that I had helped them out, grateful enough to give me the choice between here and Valinor. I chose to come back here."
Gandalf pulled him into a tighter hug in gratitude before standing up, Tegalad still in his arms. Tegalad instantly tightened his grip so that he wouldn't fall and allowed the Istari to place him on the white horse's back.
"We must return to Gondor with much haste," Gandalf explained as he pulled himself up behind the boy. "Aragorn's coronation is in two days and I think that I have just found the perfect gift to make his day. I think we can make it if we rest little and travel for as long as we possibly could."
Tegalad didn't reply as they started to move. He was excited at the possibility of seeing Aragorn again, and just a little fearful. He didn't know what the man would do after seeing him, or even if he still wanted him around. He might have moved on, or found someone to replace him. Shaking his head at his silliness, Tegalad shook the depressing thoughts from his mind. Even if Aragorn didn't want him anymore, he was sure that someone would, even if it was just the elves in Lothlorien. He would just have to wait and see.
Gandalf made it to Minas Tirith the day of the coronation and made it into the city without anyone noticing his extra passenger. Tegalad was curled up in front of him under his cloak out of sight, but even then he had slept most of the time. Gandalf was concerned for him, but not as concerned as he was about Aragorn. He had disappeared before he could truly gauge how the ranger was coping, but the letter he had received from Hedwig five days ago asking him to return was covered in tear drops and the writing was shaky at best. It was clear to the Istari that Aragorn wasn't dealing with Tegalad's supposed death very well at all.
Tegalad woke up slightly when they arrived at the stables and Gandalf set him on the ground gently before tending to Shadowfax. He would need to get Tegalad to his rooms without attracting much attention. For some reason he felt he needed to wait until after the coronation to reveal who he had found, no matter how angry Aragorn would be when he found out.
"Tegalad," Gandalf whispered as he knelt down. "I would like you to make your way to my rooms, you will be able to see the coronation from there, and I will bring Aragorn up afterwards. If he sees you beforehand he will never go through with the coronation today and Gondor really needs to have its King back on the throne where he belongs. Do you understand?"
"I'll wait for you," Tegalad promised. "Which one is your room?"
"I'll lead you to it," Gandalf promised. "I have to put my belongings in there anyway. Do you think you can follow me without being seen or do I need to hide you?"
"I can do it," Tegalad said with a nod and stepped back into the shadows. "Just lead the way."
Gandalf nodded once before he turned and started to walk away. He forced himself not to turn around to make sure that the elfling was following him by instead focusing on where he could see people gathering. The courtyard would be full with everyone attending, all they needed to ensure was that Aragorn would be there. It had been Boromir's job to encourage the depressed man to take the throne but no one knew how he planned on doing it. The other members of the Fellowship were dressing themselves for the presentation but would stand in separate places across the courtyard.
Legolas would be standing with the elves, as was his right. The hobbits would stick together as representatives from the Shire, though Gandalf assumed that they would be somewhere in the middle so that they could see what would be occurring. Gimli would be standing near the dwarves, the coming of his people had left him feeling happy long before Gandalf had disappeared to search the land for the wayward elfling.
Speaking of the elfling, Gandalf had no idea if the elves knew he was suspected of being dead, he had no idea who would be in attendance but figured that he would ask after the ceremony. Boromir would claim a spot near the front as was his right being the son of the former Steward. His brother would be by his side, as well as Éomer and Éowyn if anyone could guess where they would be standing. Aragorn of course would be on the stairway so that all could see him, and Gandalf had been given the honor of crowning him.
"Gandalf!" the Istari turned around and smiled when he saw Frodo running towards him. He was happy to note that Tegalad couldn't be seen but wasn't able to focus on him before Frodo crashed into him.
"You're late!" the hobbit exclaimed into his robes. Gandalf chuckled.
"A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins," he replied. "He arrives precisely when he means to."
He may have imagined it but he could have sworn that a low, child-like laughed followed the statement but it was drowned out by Frodo's own laugh. The hobbit pulled back and asked where he was going.
"I am putting my meager belongings in my room, and then I will be making my way to the courtyard," he explained. "Where is Aragorn?"
"With Boromir," Frodo stated suddenly sad. "We don't see him much anymore but when we do he looks terrible. I think Boromir drugged him last night so that he would sleep without nightmares. We all think that he's feeling guilty about Tegalad, and nothing we tell him is going to remove that guilt."
"Well then, we should hope that Boromir gets him to the courtyard, and after the coronation I will get him smiling again."
"How do you plan on doing that?" Frodo asked curiously. Gandalf smiled mysteriously and sent the hobbit on his way. Frodo left with some good-natured grumbling allowing Gandalf to open the door to his room for Tegalad to enter without anyone noticing. Tegalad slid into the room silently and jumped on the bed with a smile. Gandalf laughed and dropped his bag on the floor.
"I will bring Aragorn here after the coronation," he explained. "You may watch from the balcony but I would ask you to be careful and not be seen. Can you do that?"
"I can," Tegalad replied with a nod. "Go and crown him and bring him back here. It sounds like we need to have a nice, long talk."
Gandalf chuckled again before leaving the room as ordered. Tegalad watched him leave before sliding over to the balcony and staring down at where the masses were gathered. He moved his gaze up to the sky and smiled brilliantly when he saw his beloved owl flying towards him. He held out his arm and sat down so that he couldn't be seen and gave Hedwig a warm hug. She nipped his ears in response and for the next half hour Tegalad told her all about his adventures. He only stopped because he heard everyone going silent below him.
Figuring that the coronation was about to start Tegalad lifted his head slightly over the railing of the balcony so that he could see what was happening. His first reaction was to gasp at how tired Aragorn looked. The man was clearly only there because he had been bullied into it. Tegalad had no idea who had gotten him to go through with the ceremony, but guessed it was Boromir from the small conversation he had eavesdropped on when he was dead, and was amazed how persuasive he must have been to get Aragorn there at all.
He must be taking my death harder than I thought he would, Tegalad thought to himself.
The ceremony continued slowly. Gandalf said a few words and lowered a silver crown onto Aragorn's head. The man hesitated before standing, probably thinking that he could still get out of the responsibility dropped on his shoulders suddenly. Eventually he stood and turned around to face what appeared to be the population of Minas Tirith plus many extras. Children threw flower petals at him as everyone cheered. Aragorn stepped down from the stairs and gently ruffled the hair of the children near him. He nodded to Boromir seriously before looking away.
He then started to sing.
Tegalad couldn't understand the words, but goose-bumps appeared on his arms as he felt the power of the words rush over him. He watched as people stepped away from him respectfully, bowing as they did so. Aragorn stopped by Gimli, resting a hand on his shoulder and giving him a grateful nod. Gimli said something to him and Aragorn replied before moving on to the next person. He stopped by Legolas and gave the elf a hug. Legolas returned it before gently pushing Aragorn to what appeared the larger group of elves. Tegalad could recognise Lord Elrond in the front and gasped when the old elf stepped to the side presenting a beautiful elf woman. Aragorn was obviously frozen in shock, but when the woman started to curtsy he pulled her up and kissed her desperately.
Tegalad smiled at the obvious love between the two, and guessed that it was this woman whom Aragorn had turned down Éowyn for. It was a beautiful sight to behold and looking around at the witnesses, Tegalad could assume that everyone else thought so too. Hedwig hooted softly her agreement when Tegalad remarked upon it out loud. Aragorn continued his walk through the people around him until he got to the hobbits. He knelt before them in clear gratitude, and Tegalad gave a silent cheer when everyone in the courtyard copied him.
It was shortly after that that the ceremony ended and the people started to disappear back to their homes. Tegalad watched as Gandalf spoke with Aragorn, pulling him away from the elves. The rest of the Fellowship and the elves remained in the courtyard, though the dwarves decided to go back down to the lower levels, clearly uncomfortable with the height they were at. Tegalad imagined that he could see Haldir and Vanya, and promised himself that as soon as he was done speaking to Aragon he would visit them to let them know he was alright.
Gandalf started to lead Aragorn away from everyone, back inside and Tegalad knew that they were coming to the room. He sent Hedwig off to spend time with Haldir and Vanya, to make sure that they would be alright, and hid in the shadows of the room so that he would be able to see Aragorn clearly before he himself was spotted.
"I do not require any gifts Gandalf," Aragorn was saying as they entered the room. "Why you must insist on giving me one is beyond my understanding. All I wish at this moment is to go find Arwen and ask her to marry me."
"You will be able to do so," Gandalf said calmly as he looked around the room. "But only after you have your gift. Where did he go?"
"Well," Aragorn stated a little impatiently. "Where is it?"
Tegalad stepped out of the shadows so that he could be seen but wouldn't go any further. To him, Aragorn looked even more tired up close though he was thrilled to see that the man wore his lightning bolt carving on the top of his ceremonial robes. They clashed horribly but it made Tegalad feel really happy to see that the man wasn't trying to erase him from his memory. Gandalf sighed in relief and pointed him out to the new King and excused himself. Tegalad doubted that Aragorn had heard him as his eyes had widened and it appeared that he had stopped breathing. Slowly, Tegalad walked forward until he was within reach of Aragorn and looked up at him.
"Breathe," he ordered softly in elvish. "It won't do for a King to die mere moments after his coronation."
Aragorn dropped to his knees and reached out to touch him. Tegalad leant into the hand on his cheek with a sigh before he was pulled into another tight hug. He wrapped his arms around the man as he cried and buried his face in his neck. Tegalad started to cry as well and hid his face against Aragorn's shoulder. He had missed Aragorn's hugs when he was on his own, just as much as he had missed his company. It had been nice to have someone watching out for him. After a while Tegalad became aware that Aragorn was apologising between his sobs and Tegalad pulled away and looked into Aragorn's eyes. He knew that nothing he could say would convince the man that it hadn't been his fault, so he did the next best thing. He looked deep into the man's eyes through his own blurry vision and whispered three words in elvish.
"I forgive you."
No one had ever told him that in his own world. They'd always focused on telling him that he wasn't to blame, but that did nothing to remove the guilt. He would have been happy with just one person telling him that he was forgiven, that was all. It wouldn't have removed the guilt, but it would have removed the weight settling on his shoulders that guilt had caused. Aragorn pulled him back into a hug but this time stood up and spun around the room. The both of them laughed in delight and Tegalad wrapped his arms tighter around Aragorn.
"I missed you," Tegalad whispered.
"I missed you too," Aragorn replied. "You have to tell me how you are alive. The hobbits saw you die."
"Not today, today is for celebrations. I'll tell you tomorrow."
"Alright," Aragorn said, switching back to Westron. "Now can I safely assume that only Gandalf knows you are here?" Tegalad nodded. "Well then, we need to fix that."
"Can we see Haldir and Vanya?" Tegalad asked hopefully. "I want them to know that I'm alright."
"Yes, we'll see them, but first I think Frodo and Sam need to see you, and I'd like to introduce you to Arwen," Aragorn explained.
"Is she the pretty elf you were kissing?" Tegalad asked. Aragorn confirmed his question with a slight blush and opened the door.
"Let's show everyone that miracles can happen," he stated. Tegalad nodded with a grin and turned to face what was bound to be a few uncomfortable moments. But he was alive, and already he could see that Aragorn was feeling better than he had in days. And maybe, maybe he could now have the family he had always wanted…
Tegalad stared out over the city lights. Hedwig sat next to him on the ledge where he was perched, watching him with her wide amber eyes in case he were to disappear again. The day had been quite eventful with their return to the courtyard where everyone was waiting. Pippin had been the first to notice him and ever since that moment he had rarely touched the ground. It was only recently that he had escaped to be on his own, though he doubted that Aragorn had missed him leaving. The man had been incredibly possessive since they reunion.
"I knew you would be out here," Aragorn said and Tegalad grinned. He turned to look at Aragorn and was momentarily shocked to see Arwen walking next to him. He had liked the elf since they were first introduced, and was thrilled to note that she had green eyes as well. They were duller than his, with more brown in them, but they were still green and shone with love when she looked at Aragorn.
"It was crowded inside," Tegalad explained. He looked curiously between the two of them. They appeared to be nervous about something but Tegalad couldn't figure out what.
"Tegalad," Arwen started, sitting next to him on the ledge. "Where would you like to go now? Did you want to return to Lothlorien with Haldir and Vanya, they would be more than happy to adopt you as one of their own? Or did you want to stay here?"
"Where would I go if I stayed here?" Tegalad asked. He hoped they were asking what he thought they were. Aragorn cleared his throat and knelt on the ground in front of him.
"Tegalad, how would you like to become our son?" he asked. "I've asked Arwen to marry me, and she would love to get to know you as a son, and so would I."
The man was unable to continue as Tegalad had thrown himself at him and attached himself to his neck.
"I thought you would never ask me," he mumbled into Aragorn's neck. "I want you to be my dad, I really do. And I don't know your girlfriend, but she seems nice and I would like her to be my mum too."
Aragorn cheered and stood up. He pulled Arwen into their hug and Tegalad felt at home instantly. It was his first family hug that he could remember. He had so many friends now, uncles from different races, aunties who meant a great deal to him, and he supposed he could now think of Lord Elrond as his grandfather if Arwen was to be his mother. Lady Galadriel would be like his grandmother, and he hoped that he would be able to visit her in the near future to thank her for the necklace he still wore under his clothes. Then there was also the child that Vanya carried in her womb. He didn't know the gender of the child but now that there would be peace in Middle Earth Tegalad knew that the child would grow up happily without the hint of danger or war on the horizon.
"I'm so happy right now," Tegalad whispered. He looked up at the night sky and smiled. He knew the Valar were watching over him and he couldn't thank them enough. He promised himself that he would do all he could to repay their kindness of him, for giving him a family. Aragorn tightened his hug on the two people he loved the most and echoed the sentiment. Tegalad's smile increased in happiness.
He was finally home.
That's the end of Immortal Hero. I hope you all liked it because I had such fun writing it. I've kept my promise from a few chapters ago, I promised this story would be finished before the end of July and it is. Sequel may come out in a few months but it isn't at the top of my priority list.
I want to thank everyone who has reviewed. You all inspired me to keep writing, no matter how brief the review was. I look forward to seeing most of you again with my other stories and hope that you like those stories just as much as this one.
Happy reading to you all