Disclaimer: I own nothing. All characters belong to Tolkien. Thank you to my amazing Laura for helping me write this.
Aragorn with all the stubbornness of the teenager he had once been refused to be persuaded by Gandalf, his brothers, Legolas or Boromir to enter the city of Minas Tirith. So long was the battle of wills that eventually the very reason he refused to enter the city came out to meet them. From the ruins of the first gate of the city emerged the Steward of Gondor riding a horse, beside him was his younger son Faramir and surrounding them were the guards.
As Aragorn turned away to stand among his men Faramir dismounted quickly racing forward to embrace his brother and they both laughed with joy to be together once more.
"Oh, how I feared for you!" Faramir cried.
Denethor slowly dismounted, "I never feared for you my son. I knew you would be successful. How timely your arrival to turn the tide of the battle."
Boromir embraced his father but shook his head, "I can not take much credit. The victory belongs to Aragorn," he knew that his companion's name would have travelled far by now and his father would know who he was. Boromir indicated to his friend who he was sure considered running but instead stepped forward.
"My lord Steward," Aragorn bowed vowing in his mind to kill Boromir later.
Denethor narrowed his eyes at Aragorn, oh he remembered this man, Captain Thorngil he had called himself when last they met. In his heart Denethor had always suspected that the man was more then he seemed and now all his suspicions were confirmed as he saw him once again, "Aragorn, you finally choose to return to Gondor," a smirk twisted his lips.
The Chieftain of the Rangers ignored the Steward's baiting as he stepped out of his men who still surrounded him. He felt Halbarad's hand rest on his elbow reminding him that he was not alone, "It has been a long time my lord," he said with a slight bow of his head, thinking on how badly Denethor had aged, "Last time we met on vastly different terms," he added thinking back to his service under Denethor's father, although circumstances were different the reception was the same, Denethor was never fond of him.
Denethor frowned at Aragorn but now turned to Boromir, "There is a celebration in honour of your return," he informed his son, he glanced back at Aragorn, "Of course you and your men are welcome as well," he turned, "Come we have much to discuss and celebrate," he did not wish to be polite, for now that Aragorn had returned to Gondor it jeopardized any claim Boromir could make to become king. The Stewards had ruled so long and now they were so close to ascending to the throne, but just as they were about to claim what they deserved the heir decided to creep from the shadows.
Faramir fell into line behind his father and Boromir moved forward to do the same but Aragorn spoke once again, "I thank you for you hospitality my lord," he said politely, "But I can not attend. I have much yet to do. But with your permission I would enter the city to see my companions who lie in the houses of the healing."
The Steward's family stopped and Denethor turned once more to Aragorn, "You have permission to enter the city, but surely your men wish to celebrate and rest?"
Aragorn looked at his Rangers, "They can do as they wish, they have no orders. But I will not celebrate, the war is not yet over."
Denethor frowned, "We have won."
"You have won the day," Gandalf said, "But the war is not over. Within the walls of Mordor our enemy already regroups, preparing to strike again."
The Steward turned to his son, "Boromir, surely you have plans on how to fight the enemy and to drive them back once again?"
The Captain of Gondor realised he had been pulled into a battle between Aragorn and Denethor and he was hesitant to take a side, for he loved his father and knew he was a noble man, but Aragorn had proven his worth time and time again and he did not want to insult the man, although he felt Aragorn would not grudge him if he did speak against him.
"Our best hope lies with Frodo who bears the ring to Mordor," Boromir said cautiously hoping not to upset either of the men.
Gandalf nodded in agreement, "But that does not mean we can not aid him."
"It would seem there is much to be discussed," Denethor said looking upon all those who stood, "I will call a council tomorrow."
Aragorn bowed, "Very well my lord. My men and I will be setting up camp here outside the gates. Please send word to me," he knew that someone would ensure that Aragorn made it to the council meeting.
Denethor departed with his sons and Aragorn turned to Gandalf, "I will go to the houses of the healing," he told the wizard, "But I will not linger, when my work is done I will return here. I do not wish to start a political war at a time such as this."
Gandalf nodded, "Very wise Aragorn."
Elladan and Elrohir, so alike in appearance that few could tell them apart walked on either side of Aragorn, a man who they saw as their brother for it was their father who had raised him and instilled in the king-to-be his sense of honour, pride and his humble nature.
Gandalf and Boromir had both resided within the city the previous night, Aragorn, true to his word had slept in a tent with his men and the Sons of Elrond. Now, together they moved to the council, Halbarad was also attending having gone earlier on while Aragorn had talked Gimli down explaining that Denethor and his advisors would never listen to him or Legolas, as it was Aragorn knew he had a hard battle ahead as he tried to make his opinions heard.
They entered the citadel and were greeted by Boromir accompanied by Halbarad.
"Most are already here," Boromir told them, "Already the bicker among themselves, they claim that the war is no longer theirs to fight."
Aragorn nodded, "Well then, it looks as if I will have to change their minds. Does Eomer attend?"
"He does, but he is yet to speak," Halbarad replied.
The heir to the throne of Gondor nodded moving forward. He threw open the doors to the throne room where the council was been held. All around the table turned to look upon that man that entered. He was dressed as a Ranger but his presence was Kingly and commanding. Upon the foreheads of both Aragorn and his brothers were silver stars. The Ranger was adorned in a fine Elvish cloak that was pinned to his left breast with both the star of the Dunedain Rangers and the leaf of Lorien gifted to him by the Lady of the Golden wood. On his left hand he wore the ring of Barahir, around his neck was the Elfstone and at his side Anduril.
Denethor felt his heart clench with a sense of foreboding as he looked upon the man who not the night before had claimed that he would make no claim upon the throne at this time, for this man was Kingly even when dressed as a lowly Ranger.
Gandalf straightened up, "My lords, may I present the sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir and their foster brother, Aragorn son of Arathorn the heir of Isuildur."
Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, brother in-law of Denethor was the first to rise and he walked over to where Aragorn stood. He knelt before the man but before any words could leave his lips Aragorn spoke, "Rise, I will have no one bow before me. I am not the king," he looked at Denethor, "You still answer to your Steward and I come here as Cheiftain of the Dunedaine Rangers."
Aragorn seated himself by Gandalf and Elrohir sat beside him while Elladan and Halbarad remained standing. Aragorn watched as Boromir joined his father at the head of the table, his grey eyes then moved to Eomer who looked relieved to see his friend in the council.
Denethor was quick to draw attention away from Aragorn and back to what was been discussed, "We have just finished fighting for Minas Tirith, the men are tired, injured or dead, our city is in ruins. We must now focus on rebuilding not going after the enemy, we need not fight for anyone else."
Eomer's eyes hardened and with a look of approval from Aragorn he rose, "Forgive me Lord Denethor, but Rohan rode to aid you in your hour of need and we will ride again to continue to protect the free people of Middle Earth."
"You have the gratitude of Gondor, but the war has ended now. We have driven enemy forces back."
"Only for now," Gandalf said softly, "The enemy rebuilds behind his walls and we will not survive another attack."
"And what do you propose that we do?" Denethor asked the wizard, "We can not invade Mordor, it would be suicide."
"Right now a Hobbit carries the ring ever closer to Mount Doom," Elladan's musical voice was harsh with the gravity of the situation, "he is our only hope of victory."
"If we have such faith in this creature from myth why must we do anything?" one of the advisors asked.
"Because Sauron is looking for him," Gandalf said, "We must draw the eye of Sauron away and give him something else to focus on."
"Our army will not do that," A Gondorian Captain spoke, "The Dark Lord need only keep his gates shut and when he is ready open them and crush us with this army you claim he has amassed."
"That is why I will go," Aragorn spoke, "Long has Sauron hunted me, and long have I eluded him, but no more. I will face him at the gates of Mordor even if I must go there alone. I will draw his eye to me and give Frodo any chance I can."
"You will not ride alone," Eomer said looking across the table, "All that is left of my riders and myself will accompany you to what ever end."
"That Rangers of Ithilian are yours to command," Faramir said rising from his seat.
"And the men of Dol Amroth," Imrahil said, "I would proudly ride behind you into battle."
Denethor scowled, "It is a fools errand you go on Aragorn, those who follow will surely go to their deaths."
"I am aware of that," Aragorn replied looking up the table, "I will have nobody go who does not wish to. But if we fail they will be the last defences against Sauron."
"Any man who will follow my command will follow you into battle as will I," It was Boromir who spoke now, "I will not cower within these walls while others die defending her. You have led me far Aragorn and I would trust no other to lead me to the Black Gates of Mordor."
"And this is your decision?" Denethor had turned to his eldest son a pang of betrayal swelling within him.
Boromir nodded, "It is father. I have followed Aragorn here and seen him in battle, seen his compassion and nobility, his bravery and honour. There is no other man I would follow."
Aragorn smiled bowing his head, "Thank you Boromir," his eyes looked over all those who had declared that they would follow him. He took a deep breath, "We ride at Dawn," he said rising from his seat, "Make sure all your men are ready, meet me on the fields," he bowed his head to Denethor, "My lord," he said respectfully before departing with Halbarad and the Sons of Elrond.
Victory. The army had returned, many had died, but they were victorious and Sauron was defeated. In the houses of the healing lay Frodo, the Ring bearer, by his side was Gandalf and another Hobbit called Sam at all times. Other members of the fabled Fellowship wondered around the Citadel guests of Boromir. Lady Eowyn of Rohan and Faramir had been seen spending much time together as well and Eomer made plans to depart back to Rohan with the body of Theoden who lay in Gondor's tomb of kings. Aragorn had made himself scarce in the days following his return, no one seemed to know where he was hiding as no one reported seeing him with his men in the tents they had set up at the city gates. His banner flew in the wind reminding the people of Gondor of his existence and yet he made no appearance.
It was a week after Sauron had been defeated when Denethor and Aragorn met. The heir of kings was dressed in silver and black cloth of Elvish make he had entered the throne room with the Elf stone around his neck, Barahir on his finger and Anduril on his hip.
"The war has been won Denethor," he said to the Steward giving him no title, "These lands will now be at peace."
Denethor nodded his head slowly, looking at Aragorn with a blank look on his face. He neither smiled nor frowned, his face betraying nothing. The last thing that he wanted to do was give anything away. "Yes, peace. We have fought hard for it, but it is here now." But now, what would happen? He didn't want to think about it.
Aragorn nodded, "None who live now know life without the Shadow of Sauron. No man of Gondor remembers a time when the Steward was not ruling them," he left his words open, encouraging Denethor to speak openly with him.
"It has been a long and dark time," Denethor agreed keeping his face blank and giving nothing away.
Aragorn's grey eyes bore into the Steward, "Since I arrived I have flown my banner and the people of Gondor have seen it. I lead the army into Battle at the Black Gates. I have sought out Gandalf many times in this past week and he told me that you have made it clear you will not bow to a Ranger like myself, although I predicted as much before I came here."
"Because Boromir has more right to be king then you," Denethor growled at the Ranger, "He is loyal to the people, he knows the people. You came here once under false name and then fled. What will stop you from leaving again? What binds you here Aragorn? Your people are in the North not here."
"Boromir followed me into battle Denethor. He declared me his king and he would have come with me here today if I had allowed it," Aragorn said calmly.
Denethor scowled at the Ranger who stood before him, his struggle within was clear on his face especially to Aragorn who stood calmly waiting for the Steward to speak. Gandalf had been right, he had no real power to deny Aragorn's return to the throne should Aragorn choose to take his crown, "What do you want from me Aragorn?" he spat out.
"I want peace," Aragorn replied, "If I am to take the throne I will not want to fight a civil war because you want to dispute my claim, nor do I want to remove you from office as that will also bring discontent among the people. I need your support," he knew what he was saying was an insult to them both.
"I can not serve under you," Denethor replied, "But I will give my consent to your Kingship," a pointless gesture since there was nothing Denethor could do to stop Aragorn becoming King should he choose to take the throne by force.
Aragorn nodded bowing his head, "Once you have done that I will relieve you of your duties as Steward, you will be free to go where ever you desire. Faramir will take your place."
Denethor frowned. "Yes, king." He refused to say 'my' king to Aragorn. Turning, he stormed out of the room and towards somewhere else. He didn't even really know where he was going, just that he wanted to be somewhere that was not near the new king. He knew that this was going to happen and he had been powerless to stop it.
Aragorn watched him depart, taking a moment to observe the throne that he would soon sit on he also turned his back and left the room heading back out of the throne room to take council with Gandalf on how to proceed. Denethor may have stated that he would step aside but there was much yet to do.
Okay, so this was written as a one shot, but I do have ideas if I want to continue it. What do you think? Do you want more?