TITLE: Prompt Fic: "Them's Fightin' Words!" (500 words)
PROMPT: #182: "Fireworks"
AUTHOR: Marethiel
BETA: The Wise and Worthy Cairistiona
SUMMARY: A childish quarrel proves prophetic.

"The Stewards rule Gondor, no one else!"

"There will come a King, Dúraeron!" The angry young voice was colored with a power fueled by yearning. "My grandmother has the sight! Dark haired, she says, black as the night sky, with eyes as grey as silver!"

"And does that not describe my Lord Denethor, or any of the line of Anarion?" taunted his opponent.

The combatants, neither having seen twelve summers, stood apart, one taller and lean, quick and scorning; the other stocky and solid, feet planted firmly, glowering angrily.

"Cease this arguing at once."

"But, Master Berenagar - !"

"There are topics we do not discuss here in court!"

"That makes no sense, Master!" protested the shorter boy. "Lord Ecthelion rests upon the throne as but a Steward. If there is the chance for our people to once again live under one banner, why not discuss it?"

"It is but a dream!" retorted the other, blue eyes blazing. "Isildur's line is dead! It is the now that matters, Alagos! Dreams of tomorrow rob us of strengthening our position today! My Lord Denethor says – "

"I am sick of hearing his words! I wish Lord Ecthelion had more than one son!"

At that, the two began scuffling angrily, and their teacher firmly thrust himself between them. "Enough!" he bellowed. Berenagar was an old campaigner, wounded years back and now relegated to training youngsters in the art of war. Both teacher and students turned in surprise at the amused cough heard behind them.

Pipe smoke rose in lazy circles from the shaded sanctuary of an aged oak's spreading boughs. The branches parted and a very tall, stern, dark-haired soldier of Gondor appeared. His grey eyes gazed somberly at the boys, but twinkled at the old man.

Berenagar allowed no smile to pass his lips as he saw from whom the mirth had risen, though his eyes allowed it. "Ah! Captain Thorongil, what you must think of these two ruffians."

The boys turned their eyes in shocked awe and respect to Thorongil, whose skill and valor were renown throughout Gondor.

"I think any King to come would be gratified to find this manling a loyal subject, and proud member of his guard," smiled Thorongil at the boys, tousling the shorter boy's head, then nodding at Dúraeron, "while this one's loyalty would also bear golden fruit."

Old Berenagar's eyebrow arched. "Lord Denethor might disagree with you."

Thorongil chuckled, also raising an eyebrow. "He might," he agreed.

"Off with you," Berenagar snorted at the boys. "It's past time for midday meal."

The old campaigner straightened as best he could beside the tall, strong Captain from the North, watching the youngsters go. "Such rough words are an omen of the unrest to come."

Thorongil's eyes stayed on the two youngsters, their acrimony forgotten as they laughed their way to the kitchens. "Aye… there will be fireworks to come between anyone claiming the throne of Gondor, and… " His voice trailed off.

"Fireworks, indeed," agreed Berenagar softly.