They're not mine. I own nothing… Ok, I have a cat. But he's moody and has claws so I doubt you want him. Not beta'd. My very first fic to be posted. Please review.

A Prince or A Pirate?

Her fork stopped mid-air, her mouth slightly open. The food on it was all but forgotten at the simple statement uttered by her firstborn. Turning to her husband, she noticed his forceful swallow before he cleared his throat to speak.

"Eldarion, would you please repeat that?" Aragorn asked his son.

"I want to get a tattoo" the young man replied confidently, looking directly at his parents.

Perplexed, Arwen looked first to her husband, who seemed somewhat distressed, then to Prince Imrahil who, looking horrified, was holding his napkin over his mouth. Both of his two elder sons were looking at their plates. "I don't understand. What is a tattoo?"

After a brief pause, it was Imrahil's second son who volunteered the information. "A tattoo is an ink drawing that sailors have on their bodies."

Imrahil sighed, "What Erchirion is omitting is that the ink is inserted into the skin so that it does not wash away. Ever."

Arwen gasped and looked to her son, "You wish to mar your flesh as such?"

"It is not marring it. They are adornments." Eldarion answered indignantly.

"And what manner of adornment would you choose?" Aragorn asked, seeming to have collected himself.

The answer was immediate. "The white tree of Gondor. On my upper right arm"

"You have given this thought. Yet, you are only fifteen. This is something that you would have forever. Have you thought about what you will do when it becomes known that the future King of Gondor has a tattoo? How will you explain to the nobles that you are not in agreements with pirates, as tattoos are a primary status symbol for them."

"But it will be the white tree!" he argued, "No one could say I was in league with pirates simply because of a tattoo."

"But they might and there are some, who I can tell you, would in a moment. Is that a battle you want to fight?" He tried to calmly appeal to his son's sense of reason. He felt Arwen's hand slide into his, under the view of the table. He squeezed it reassuringly, knowing this was distressful to her. No elf would even consider such a thing, since their long lives would make a change of mind dreadful.

Eldarion pondered silently for a moment before he spoke again, though more thoughtful. "I have seen even Swan Knights with tattoos and I have not seen any loyalties questioned."

A clink of glass on china brought everyone's eyes to Imrahil's sons, seated to the right of their father. Erchirion set his goblet down further away from his plate, mumbling his apologies. Elphir was decidedly not looking at his brother.

"Swan Knights are not the king, my young lord", Imrahil answered, narrowing his eyes at his children. "Do either of you have something to tell me?" When silence greeted his request, he spoke again, "Allow me to rephrase that. Have either of you done something to your bodies? Erchirion?"

"Yes, my lord." He answered reluctantly. " A swan tattoo on my right shoulder blade"

Sighing, Imrahil rested his elbow on the table and dropped his head into his hand. "Elphir?"

"I have no tattoos." He answered, looking his father directly in the eye. Imrahil arched his eyebrow. Taking up his goblet, he offered "Aradol despises them" before taking a swallow of his wine. Imrahil chuckled, thinking of his daughter-in-law.

"The best reason for not having one" Aragorn deemed looking to his queen with a smile. Turning back to his son, he hoped to discontinue such notions. "Have you any more thoughts on the matter?"

"I will abstain. As you say, I am young. And one day, I will be a king so I must think of the future and not mere whims." Eldarion then smiled mischievously, "Though, should I choose to get one when I am older, I know where to find someone to do it. May I be excused? I have a book I wish to finish before bed."

"I believe I will take my leave as well. I desire to walk in the gardens a bit before I retire. Goodnight, my lords." The queen rose as well and the two left the room.

After a few moments, the silence was broken by Aragorn "Elphir?"

"Yes, my lord?"

"You stated that you have no tattoos" the king stated calmly.

"Correct, my lord."

"What else do you have?"

"My lord?" he said, hoping the king would not continue the line of questioning.

Such hopes were obviously useless. "Your father asked if you had done anything to your body and you stated that you had no tattoos, which begs the question of what you do have. I, myself, am curious. I should also like to be prepared should my son decide he wishes to alter his body in some other way."

He knew he could not refuse to answer the king. However, he had never thought he'd have this conversation, let alone in front of his father, who looked exceedingly exasperated.

"I have a piercing." The king's brow furrowed and Elphir could see the man's eyes move from one ear to the next. Clearing his throat, he supplied "my nipple."

Aragorn cringed. "Is that not a most sensitive place? Why would you do such a thing?"

Elphir's rakish smirk and simple statement ended the conversation.

"Oh, it has its uses."