Chapter 1; A few years after the destruction of the ring
Aragorn and Arwen were sitting in the royal gardens of Minas Tirith, bathing in what had to be one of the most glorious days they had ever shared together. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. Arwen had a sleeping Eldarion in her arms and was humming an elven lullaby to keep him that way. Aragorn smiled at the lovely picture they made, trying not to remember the previous night, when Eldarion had kept them awake for so long he had begun to wonder at Eldarion’s parentage, surely a half elf should not posses so much energy in the middle of the night. But the memory of Arwen’s reaction when he had suggested that they get a nurse for him caused the King to think again; it may just be that there was more of his wife in his son than him. This annoyed Aragorn. The heir of the throne should undoubtedly take after the King.
One of the songbirds that Legolas had brought to go in the garden created for Eldarion fluttered over to Arwen and began to chirrup along to the song she was humming. Eldarion slowly woke and began to gurgle at the pretty little bird which was now dancing along on the back of the bench.
Suddenly a terrific crash awoke the slumbering city from its peaceful siesta. Aragorn sighed. Gimli had evidently found yet another building that did not meet his high architectural standards, and so had brought it crashing to the ground in the true dwarven fashion by digging underneath it. Hoping that Gimli had alerted the owners of the building to his dwarven dislike of it before he had torn it down, (unlike yesterday when the owners in question had still been asleep), the King rose and took the now bawling Eldarion out of his wife’s arms. Arwen glared at her husband.
“Why in middle earth do you let that destructive maniac live here?” She asked with an expression that would have made Sauron himself cower in terror. Aragorn merely smiled, knowing that Arwen adored Gimli really (he had known this ever since he had caught her reading bedtime stories to him when the dwarf claimed to have a touch of flu).
“I suppose I could have a word with him.” Aragorn responded dryly, trying very hard not to show his amusement. Ever since Gimli had taken over the re building of Gondor’s capital, there had been a steady stream of complaints moaning about the noise, the holes in the ground and the amount of rock needed that the Gimli needed to complete his projects.
“What he needs,” a silky voice behind him said, “Is a distraction. You need him to leave for a while, so someone can sort the damage out, but it will have to be something that he deems worthy of leaving for.”
Arwen turned to see Legolas walking over to Aragorn and firmly place a hand over the howling infant’s mouth with a “Please spare my ears you silly half elfling.”
“But what can we do?” cried Arwen almost hysterically, “We’ve asked him politely, we’ve even ordered him to stop tearing up the city on a few occasions. I even gave him the exact location of a famous mithril mine, but it still wouldn’t shift him! He fails to even notice me any more!” With that, the Queen of Gondor slumped into the arms of her husband who hastily dropped Eldarion into the arms of Legolas.
Patting his wife’s head in an attempt to calm her down, Aragorn decided to ignore the obvious distress in his wife’s voice about being ignored by the stumpy dwarf and calmly asked, “We have asked him to stop? I don’t remember.”
“You were probably too drunk your highness,” Legolas said with an infuriating grin and a mock bow, “But I have thought long and hard about this, lest he turns his attention to the garden I made for your son.” Here the elf glared down at the squirming infant, “What we really need is something important, maybe a re union of some sort, away from here. Perhaps if we invite that old bat Galadriel….”
“But where?” Aragorn asked, still trying to calm a distressed Arwen who was now singing a hideous lament about broken hearts and death. “Gimli is now a legendary figure of destruction. Who in their wildest dreams would even consider letting him anywhere near any property they deem valuable? He would destroy it! I mean, would you let him loose in Mirkwood?”
Legolas did not reply, as he was too busy trying to stop Eldarion pulling his blonde hair out in the distress that the destruction of the buildings had caused him.
“How about in Imladris?” Arwen suddenly chimed in, peering out at her son from the safety of her husband’s arms. “Daddy would love to meet Eldarion, and he would love to have the visitors. You know he does darling, remember how pleased he was when we had the council? He told me he had looked forward to it for years! He adores the company of dwarves, he used to say how entertaining they were.”
“I think he was being sarcastic love,” Aragorn said gently, so as not to add to his wife’s distress. He still had not forgotten how angry his foster father had been when Merry had accidentally trodden on a foot of a dwarf, pushed him into a rose bed and then dropped an entire barrel of elvish wine on him. To fuel the growing resentment the dwarves harboured for the elves, Merry had added that a blonde elf had told him to. “Don’t you remember how stressed he got?”
“And then how he would drink himself into a stupor?” Legolas helpfully added, a manic grin on his face. He would never let anyone forget how he had found the respected Elf Lord singing a love song to a table lamp.
“Don’t be silly dear.” Arwen said, untangling herself from her husband, and avoiding Legolas who was holding Eldarion out to her, “I’ve got it all worked out now. All we need to do is write some invitations to some important people and then go to Imladris ourselves. Daddy never refused me anything before.” Arwen smiled. She had always had a certain knack for getting her own way from her father.
“Dearest,” Aragorn lamely tried again to make his wife see sense, “This isn’t a good idea really, is it? I mean-“
Arwen shook her husband,s hands off her and then flounced her skirts. Not being one to take no for an answer, Gondor’s Queen dashed off to write invitations to all the people she had ever met in her life at Imladris. Unfortunately, she had had a particularly long life in Imladris, which the invitation list would undoubtedly reflect.
“Legolas, are you sure that was a good idea? Father hates having lots of people and the thought of facing him after Gimli has torn down half of Imladris after deciding that it wasn’t well built…” Aragorn flinched at the picture. It had been bad enough when he had broken one of Elrond’s favourite chairs when he had been celebrating something with Elladan and Elrohir.
“Never mind, he wont be in Imladris for much longer, and anyway, if we keep our numbers down, and noise to a minimum, no one will notice, least of all Elrond, as he will no doubt be absorbed in some dusty, moth-eaten book.” Legolas replied, promptly handing the King back his grumpy son.
Aragorn was about to point out that elves did notice this sort of thing, when another deafening roar rolled around the palace grounds. Eldarion immediately started to scream again.
Legolas winced, “Sounds like another noble has lost his mansion,” he groaned. “I do hope you weren’t trying to make any friends here Aragorn.”
Gimli was having a very productive day. So far he had managed to pull down two fairly substantial buildings which, he said, stood in the way of the King’s rule. Needless to say, the some hundred people working for him, were like-minded and so hung on his every word, even if it meant pulling the whole city to the ground and re building it, they would do it, for if not, their new King might not be able to rule as effectively as he would like.
After seeing the destruction of yet another building which may well have belonged to a noble of some sort (an angry half clad male wearing a gold circlet around his neck was shouting something about stupid deformed dwarves who should be sent back to where they came from), Gimli paused in his destructive pastime and took stock of the situation. So far, nothing had been rebuilt. That was for the menials to do, and it certainly wasn’t as important as pulling things down.
“What really is a shame,” Gimli commented to a passing builder “Is the total lack of caves. We could have built a lovely mine. Think how good that would be, think how stunning that would look. Actually,” and here the dwarf began to get excited “You see that little patch of grass and what-not over there, we could dig up that and build our very own mine. Think how wonderful that would be!” Here the dwarf began to jump up and down, dancing around at the thought of a real mine to dig in.
As an afterthought, the builder suddenly commented “Master dwarf, isn’t that the garden that Prince Legolas of the Mirkwood realm created for the arrival of the heir of Gondor?”
“So?” was Gimli’s immediate reaction. “Digging is much more fun than picking flowers, and more profitable too, I might add.” And then, knowing this would win over even the most stubborn builders, the dwarf added, “His Royal Highness the King of Gondor,” Here the builder bowed and lowered his eyes, as a mark of deep respect, -Aragorn was already something of a legend, “Will need something to cover the cost of rebuilding after the war. It was quite an expensive one.”
“You’re quite right you know,” the builder had to agree; a lot of wealth had been lost in the war, a mine wouldn’t disturb the garden much, and anyway, it would grow back. “Shall I go and tell the Prince that we would like to add a little something to his garden?”
“You don’t need to,” a slightly annoyed, but familiar voice said. “I did not spend the best part of a year creating a beautiful garden-“
“patch of grass,” Gimli put in,
“-to have it ruined by some silly dwarf wanting to dig a cave.” The elf did not look pleased. “Anyway, King Aragorn wants to see you.”
“If he wants me to look after that silly elfling…” Gimli began, he had once been asked to baby-sit for the Queen and had ended up leaving the baby in the care of Arod (Legolas’s horse) and had had a chunk torn out of his beard. What made it worse was that Arwen had laughed when he had complained to her. She said it served him right. He should have taken better care of the Prince, as really he was a very nice baby.
“He doesn’t.” Legolas cut in. “I think it’s more a case of him wanting you to do some little favour for the Queen. She needs the addresses of a few dozen dwarves. You see, she is planning a sort of re-union in Imladris.”
“Then why does Aragorn want to see me?”
“He doesn’t want you to give her the addresses, mainly because Aragorn fears his father’s wrath if the dwarves grace Imladris with their presence,” Legolas smirked.
“If there’s going to be that wine there then yes, I will do as the Queen asks,” Gimli said, with an air of great nobility.
“I didn’t think that the dwarves liked the delicate elven wines,” Legolas commented, remembering how Gimli had complained loudly to the entire hall of Imladris that the wine was pathetically watery.
“I don’t.” Gimli quickly put in, lest Legolas or the builder should think less of him, “It’s watching the light-weighted elves go under the table after two glasses of it that I like.” And with that, the stumpy dwarf ambled off to see the Queen.
Legolas rolled his eyes skyward. “This is not my idea Elrond, so please don’t blame me for anything.”