Summary: Aragorn, Faramir and their sons go on a fishing trip with some interesting results. Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings belongs to Tolkien. I wrote this for pure enjoyment.
The late afternoon sun sank slowly in the horizon as two men and two boys lounged on the river bank. A gentle breeze whispered through the soft grasses at waters' edge where the boys were crouched, intent on their fishing poles cast out into the flowing current. Faint giggles teased the silence as they murmured to each other, gesturing at the slack lines. The men relaxing behind them, easily recognized as the boys' sires, shared knowing smiles.
"I wonder how much longer the peace and quiet will last." Faramir, Steward of Gondor, remarked to his companion.
"With our sons, one can never tell. I am impressed that they have managed to sustain it this long." Aragorn Elessar replied.
"You certainly aided the cause when you told them not to scare away our dinner." The prince's grey eyes twinkled merrily at his friend.
The king chuckled quietly in response. "I did nothing more than my foster brothers did to me when they took me fishing." They were interrupted by a sudden yelp from the water.
"Ada, help!" cried Eldarion as his pole bent nearly in half and his feet skidded on the wet grass, landing him full length on his side in the mud. Elboron tossed aside his own pole, grabbing the young prince's arms in an effort to keep his friend from sliding into the river. Three swift strides brought Aragorn to his son's side and his hands quickly closed over the boy's.
"Let me have it, ion nin." He commanded firmly.
Eldarion surrendered his place and rolled away, wincing slightly as his ankle protested the movement.
" 'Darion, are you alright?" Elboron scampered to his friend's side as Faramir joined Aragorn in wrestling the feisty trout to shore. The other boy nodded, panting slightly in the aftermath of the struggle. He suddenly realized that his clothing was damp as well as covered in mud and grass and his ankle was throbbing in time with his heartbeat.
"My ankle hurts." He grudgingly admitted leaning back on his elbows, trying to catch his breath. "How big is that fish?"
"Big enough to give both our fathers trouble." The younger boy answered with a faint smile, his eyes turned to the two men now kneeling on the shore. "It looks as though they have landed it." His words rang true as the king and steward rejoined their sons.
"Are you injured, ion nin?" Aragorn asked softly as he surveyed his son's disheveled appearance.
"I twisted my ankle when I slipped, Ada." Eldarion bit his lip, his grey eyes downcast. "I'm sorry."
"Do not be sorry penneth. You have done nothing wrong." His father said gently. He probed the injured ankle with skillful fingers. "I don't believe that you have broken it, but it will be painful for a few days." His sharp eyes quickly noticed the guilt that flickered in his son's face. "What is it?" he murmured as he drew the boy close, enveloping him in loving arms.
"I ruined our trip." Eldarion replied, burying his face in the strong chest. To his surprise, the king chuckled softly.
"Not in the least, my son. I see no reason why we cannot remain here. I can tend to your ankle here just as easily as I can back in the city." His grey eyes twinkled down at his son as the young prince pulled back to meet his gaze.
"Thank you Ada." Eldarion hugged his father tightly. Aragorn pressed a kiss to his son's forehead before scooping him up and carrying him back to the camp site. Faramir put an arm around his own son as they followed the king's long strides.
Later, as twilight fell over the trees, Eldarion lay back on his bedroll, his sore ankle propped up and bandaged. His face was thoughtful as he stared into the flames. Suddenly he jumped as an apple core abruptly landed in his lap. Startled, he looked up as his best friend exploded into gales of mirth. "What was that for?" he asked, throwing it back.
"You were daydreaming. I called you twice." Elboron was still laughing as he ducked the remains of the fruit.
Eldarion blushed as he glanced over at his father. "I was just thinking. You got to our side so quickly when I fell that I think I understand why Master Took calls you "Strider". You walk fast."
Aragorn shrugged, a wry grin pulling at his lips. "I suppose I do but Pippin calls me "Strider" because that is how I was introduced to him. It was the name I used when I didn't want to be recognized as the chieftain of the Dúnedain." He idly packed his pipe as he spoke.
"Was this a name you picked for yourself or was it given to you?" Faramir enquired curiously.
"In truth, it was a bit of both." Aragorn shifted, leaning back against a tree and stretching his long legs out in front of him. The two boys exchanged grins as they sensed a story beginning. "I have had many names in my life. "Aragorn" is my given name, chosen for me by my father and mother. However after my father was killed and my mother brought me to Rivendell, Master Elrond believed that it was best that my identity be hidden. Therefore, he called me "Estel"."
"That means hope in Sindarin." Elboron broke in eagerly. "Did he name you that because he knew you would become the king?"
"Elboron, you're interrupting." Faramir gently admonished.
"Yes Ada. I'm sorry, Uncle." The boy said sheepishly ducking his head.
The king waved off the apology. "Yes, Master Elrond is gifted with foresight and he knew that my destiny would be to one day claim Gondor's throne. He knew that I was the hope for Middle Earth." He drew deeply on his pipe and sent a thin stream of smoke skyward.
"That's why Uncle Elladan and Uncle Elrohir call you "Estel", isn't it." Eldarion said in the silence. He grinned mischievously. "So does Nana when she thinks the two of you are alone."
Aragorn sketched a brow at his son but answered the question. "It's true that the twins have never called me anything other than "Estel", even after my true name was revealed to me by Master Elrond. I was twenty years old and he felt it was time that I learn of my heritage. Shortly thereafter, I returned to the Dúnedain and it was then that I received the name "Strider"." He took another pull on the pipe, a smile crossing his lean face. "It started as a jest. After growing up with the elves, I naturally used long confident strides. Halbarad, who was my cousin and one of the first to accept me, jokingly asked me over supper one night if I thought I ruled the world. When I stared back at him in amazement, he simply laughed and said 'you go striding all over this land as if you owned it.'" He chuckled at the memory. "He used to tease me that if I ever lost my horse that I could simply out walk the orcs. As I ventured further south, I found that I needed the secrecy that an alias could give me. One day Halbarad and I were in Bree at the Inn of the Prancing Pony and we met Butterbur for the first time. He asked my name and I with a sly look to my cousin replied 'Strider'. I thought Halbarad was going to choke on his ale. When he finally regained his composure, and after Butterbur had departed, he glanced over at me and said 'well I suppose it's as good a name as any.' I shrugged in response for who would ever suspect the heir to the throne of Gondor to have such an uncouth sounding name."
"And yet you have made it respectable by translating it into the high tongue and making it your throne name." Faramir pointed out with a smile of his own.
"Indeed. It seemed fitting enough, when one considers that I have travelled throughout much of Middle Earth."
"How did you come to be known as "Thorongil"?" The steward asked as the king fell silent.
"That was also a name of Halbarad's choosing. He knew of my plans to learn of both Rohan and Gondor by offering my services to King Thengol and he realized that I could use neither "Strider" nor "Estel" and I certainly couldn't use "Aragorn" without risking civil war or capture by the enemy so he put forth a name that he believed to be fitting for a captain of Rohan."
"Did anyone know who you truly were then?" Elboron asked.
"I believe that Denethor, your grandfather, suspected my ancestry. His mistrust and dislike towards me was well known. It's one of the reasons that I left Gondor when I did." Aragorn answered softly, glancing at Faramir as he did. The prince's eyes turned sad at the mention of his father and he swallowed hard. "The time was not prudent for me to assume the throne. In a way, your father's death paved the way for me to come to the city in peace. I am certain that I would never have been able to heal you had he still been alive."
Faramir shook his head, trying to maintain his composure. "He never would have allowed you near me. I would have died." His voice was soft and rasped with emotion. Elboron snuggled close to his father and wrapped his arms around the other's chest.
"It's alright Ada." The child whispered quietly. "He can't hurt you anymore."
A watery smile crossed the prince's face. "Thank you my son." He said, pressing a kiss to the boy's hair, holding him close. He remained still for several long moments as he blinked back his tears.
"Ada? How did you get the name "Elessar"? Naneth said that her Grandmother gave you a green stone that glows on its own and that's why people called you that."
Aragorn's grey eyes twinkled. "What does Elessar mean Eldarion?"
The boy thought for a moment. "In Sindarin it means elf stone." He narrowed his eyes in thought at his father's encouraging nod. "The people of the city knew the gem came from the elves, did they not?"
"Indeed they did. And since your uncles had joined me, the story spread even faster. The name had been prophesied for me but at the time, I didn't think about it. I was more intent in healing those who needed my aid. Later, Elrohir came to me with a smile. He informed me of the name that the common folk were now calling me. I had earned the name Elessar." Aragorn replied. He smiled proudly at his son. "Can you guess which of my names is my favorite one?"
Eldarion thought for a moment. "Well, "Estel" would remind you of Imladris and the elves and "Aragorn" is the one that your parents gave you." The boy spoke slowly, reasoning through what he had learned. "Elessar" came from our people themselves and "Thorongil" is certainly majestic." He shrugged uncertainly. "I don't know Ada. Which one is your favorite?"
The king pushed himself to his feet, crossing the campsite to drop to his knees at his son's side. He wrapped his arms around Eldarion, pressing a kiss to his temple. "It is very simple, Eldarion. That name came from you, for my favorite name is Ada."