Title: A Good King

Author: Sivan Shemesh

Beta: Aranel

Disclaimer: Not mine, but the bunny.

Rating: K+

Warning: AU. Character death

Summary: The king is dying, and has only one wish to make, to his son.

Author Note: Written for Aragorn Angst Prompts. Prompt#225: King

Prince Eldarion stared at the still form of his father. The fear of losing him made the young man stand like a statue in Imladris' beautiful garden.

"Go to him, my son," Arwen nudged him. "He needs you."

Eldarion could feel his legs hurrying as though flying, but there was nothing but numbness within him as he walked toward his father's bed.

"E… Eldarion, my precious son…" Aragorn called to him, weak though his voice had become, "I want you to promise me one thing before I leave you and my beautiful wife…"

Eldarion watched with dread as his father closed his eyes; might he pass before he could finish his sentence? And in that moment, all the prince could see was the darkness of losing his father.

"NO!" he shouted in despair, his eyes torn by the raging tears that rode down his cheeks, "Please, ada…"

After a moment that seemed like an eternity, Eldarion felt something moving, embracing him. He brushed away the tears and saw his father's hand touching him.

"I am still here, my son," Aragorn assured him.

Eldarion nodded and waited for his father to speak. He wished to know what the promise was, even if he knew that he would agree to it, whatever it was.

"I… I asked Legolas and Gimli to stay after I am gone, and to help you whenever you need," Aragorn told him with a shaky voice. He tried to calm his breathing and added, "I want you to promise to be a good king to your people."

"A good king like you, ada?" Eldarion asked. He had a taste of this power and he had tried his utmost to rule as well as his father, and yet he bore a great fear of failing to do what his father had done.

"A better king, my precious son," Aragorn gazed at his son, and as his breathing turned shallow, he knew that the end was near. "To lead them into battle and victory." Aragorn tried to move, but it seemed to cause him more pain. He continued, "To be there when a mother gives birth, to grieve when a man is lost at his prime, to play with the children, to be at one with your people, stay with them."

"Is that what makes me a good king?" Eldarion asked.

"No, it will make you a better king..." Aragorn corrected him, and drawing one last breath, he added, "My king…"

Eldarion stared at his father, his face was an expression of decisiveness. Then he reached over, closed his father's eyes, embraced his mother, and left the room.

Legolas could read the grave news on his face. "He is gone," he mumbled in a shattered voice.

"Aye, he is," Eldarion confirmed and drew the elf in an embrace, and looking into the dimmed blue eyes, he added, "I will need your aid greatly in future, Legolas."

"Only his?" Gimli asked.

"Yours too, my friend." Eldarion's lips fell into a smile despite the circumstances. Only the dwarf could lighten moments when it was most needed. No wonder Gimli and Legolas had become such closer friends, what with his father there to balance things out among them.

They turned as Arwen joined them, closing the door after her. Her eyes were red from her tears – crying for the lost of her lover, her husband and most of all, a father.

"Eldarion, what your father meant to say, is," Arwen spoke softly as she dried her tears, "to be a king has nothing to do with a crown and a title. It is about being a good king to your people, so that your people will address you intimately by your given name."

Eldarion went to her, pulling her close to his heart, "I know, nana." He drew a breath, looked up at the others and declare, "I will be a better king to my people, and not fail my father's last wish."

"Eldarion, you will never fail him. You have been his pride and his life ever since you were born," Arwen told him, the love shining from her eyes.

"She is right," Legolas said, nodding. "Don't let anything suggest otherwise."

"Second that, lad," Gimli confirmed the elf's words.

The End