Beautiful Reminder

The room was quiet, save for the slight rustle of parchment as Eldarion sat in his study, deep in thought. Sunlight flooded through the window opposite him and cast golden figures on the wooden surface.

He leaned back in his chair as he set down the quill, looking from the pile of papers on his desk to the portraits on the walls. His gaze rested on a single painting hanging next to the window.

A man and a woman stood together, smiling at him from inside the silver frame. The woman's pointed ears peeked out through her raven-black hair as it cascaded down over her shoulders. Her face was fair, her glance piercing. Even in a painting, Eldarion mused, her eyes could see through him.

The man beside her was tall and broad-shouldered, wearing a fine garment of the richest red. Silver strands of frost flowed through his dark hair and his face was clean-shaven. Eldarion also noticed that he seemed to have a look of absolute contentment on his face.

Eldarion was woken from this reverie by a toddler barrelling through the doorway, laughing and giggling as his nurse chased breathlessly after him. Fine, but rumpled brown hair fell to the boy's shoulders and his deep blue eyes beamed with mischief. His small tunic was misplaced on his shoulders and one of his leggings had disappeared, while the other was nearly off. Edhelion ran to his father and, mid-stride, leapt up onto his lap. The little boy almost missed the chair and Eldarion had to catch him and pull him up while laughing himself.

As Eldarion looked at the child, he suddenly realized that these eyes were the same eyes of the woman in the painting. The boy's smile was the same appealing grin of the man who stood beside her. It struck him like never before how much Edhelion looked like them.

The old woman gasped for breath, staring at the child saying, "The young rascal is a speedy one!"

Eldarion grinned, and Edhelion looked up at him, saying, "Nana wishes to comb my hair, but I do not want her to, Father!"

Eldarion smiled and said in a theatrical, silly voice, "But of course, Edhelion, you must have your hair combed! What is a royal heir if his locks are not neat and tidy!"

But with a grin he whispered in the boy's ear, "I would not want her to comb my hair either, little Edhelion."

The child's bubbling laughter rang loudly as he reached up to kiss the king. Eldarion chuckled and kissed his forehead, saying, "Keep her running, young master, you are faster than she!" A delighted glint sparkled in Edhelion's eyes as he managed to slide off of his father's knee and bolt through the door once again.

The maid flashed the king a playful glance of reproval, then followed the little prince out of the room, calling after him. Eldarion grinned broadly at his son, heir to the throne of Men, with his disheveled hair and adorable smile.

"I believe he shares his father's love of defiance." A clear voice said as it entered the room.

"And you find this unsettling?" he said with a smirk on his face, not bothering to turn his head.

His wife entered the office and walked to the side of his desk, looking at the mountain of paperwork stacked in front of him.

She turned her gaze towards him and smiled, replying, "No, I admire it."

"Well, I believe I, in turn, received it from another."

"Yes," she agreed, smiling at him with twinkling eyes and continued, "You are much like your father, Eldarion. And apparently, you have passed these traits on to your son."

He stared at his beautiful wife, Mirien, with deep abiding love. They had married many years ago, although it seemed like they had known each other for an eternity. From this fair city she had been born, and they had wedded under a blissful summer sky in the courtyard of the White Citadel itself.

Eldarion grinned as she approached him, realizing that she spoke the absolute truth. He sighed, as he realized that she always did.

His smile slowly disappeared as his thoughts turned back to his father and mother, who had left him three years past. His heart jolted at the vivid memory of their faces and his eyes lowered.

"But your eyes, and the eyes of our son," Mirien continued gravely, noticing the pain that shadowed his kingly features, "are your mother's. I have yet to see eyes as clear and as beautiful as hers."

She set her hand upon his shoulder, and he closed his over it.

The King Elessar had finally let go of life on a dark night, and although Eldarion had seen it from afar and knew the time was near, it did not lessen the raw pain that gnawed at his heart.

Aragorn's wife, Arwen Undómiel, had left Minas Tirith after his death for her old home in Lothlorien, where she eventually faded, finally paying the ultimate price for her love.

Childhood memories instantly flooded Eldarion's mind, of when he would play with his father outside in the gardens, or learn Elvish from his mother. His thoughts plunged deeper and deeper into the beautiful sea of his past, and it felt as if someone had torn open a wound that he had managed to ignore. How he longed to hear his father's deep, commanding voice again, or to see his mother beaming at him.

"Eldarion," she looked straight into his face and said quietly, "they are in your son, you see them in his face. You know they will never leave you as long as you live." She tenderly brushed his cheek with her hand as overwhelming sadness washed over him. At that point he would have wept, had he any tears left. But slowly, ever-so-slowly, he was beginning to heal.

"I know," he whispered. A small smile touched the corners of his mouth as he said, "Though I need someone to remind me of it now and again."

She gazed down upon him and leaned over, peering deep into his eyes. She kissed him and slowly stood. Silently she walked out of the room, leaving him to ponder this alone. He watched her leave, then lowered his head, exhausted.

He reached just under his collar and pulled out a glittering jewel from around his neck. He held it tight as it glowed in his palm, radiating a light that never failed or dimmed. Still holding onto the necklace, he left his desk and found himself gazing out the window, looking out at the clouds that lazily drifted past him and the soaring birds. He tucked the Evenstar under his tunic and sighed contentedly, his gaze held fast by the beauty of his kingdom, and his future.

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