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Chance Encounter  by Dreamflower


The door opened, and Faramir came in. "My Lord King--" he stopped at the *look* he was getting from the King.

"Faramir, do you see anyone else in here?"

"No, Sire." He blushed; he knew what Aragorn meant.

"I do understand the need for formality when we are in the presence of most others. But surely between the two of us, you may simply call me 'Aragorn'."

Faramir gave a wry smile. "I will try. It is just that it is not proper." He was startled by the loud burst of laughter this answer received.

"Now you sound just like Samwise, when Frodo tries to get him to stop saying 'mister'."

Faramir did give a rueful chuckle at that. "I am afraid it is for the same reason--Aragorn--we were both reared with a very strict sense of propriety. A lifetime's habits are not easily cast away."

"Do come in and sit down, Faramir. I just received word that the wains of the more seriously wounded will be arriving in a few days, and so my brothers will be returning to the City." Elladan and Elrohir had returned to check on the status of those wounded who had not yet been recovered enough to make the journey quickly, and to see to their eventual return to the City from a small field hospital that had been organized in Osgiliath. Aragorn gave a smile at the thought of seeing them again soon. He glanced again at Faramir. "I think that you came to tell me something specific?"

Indeed." The Steward went on to recount the meeting with Menelcar in the City. "I have no doubts that he is exactly who Pippin and Merry say he is, and I sense no deception in him. However, Éowyn also seems to somehow know him, though she has yet to remember exactly how. I did think that you should be aware of it. Pippin wished to give him access to the Citadel, and I did not
gainsay him."

Aragorn nodded. "I do believe that once or twice I have heard my small Knight mention this minstrel. I appreciate both your caution and your judgment."

"Thank you. I worry about charlatans and those who would take advantage of
the hobbits' good natures. I would not call them simple, but their
experiences have not prepared them for certain types of people." Faramir
pursed his lips, and shook his head.

"This is true. Hobbits do not tend to think too highly of themselves. Their
humor tends to be self-deprecating, except for the boasts of the young, and
even those tend to be of the jesting sort. The idea that people have
adulation for them is startling to them, and I am afraid that for Frodo, it
is almost offensive. Still, they are shrewd for all that, and they are not
easily taken in by flattery. I do not fear for them in that regard. And any
who *should* attempt to take advantage of them would soon regret it." He
looked grim and determined when he said this, and Faramir was once more
reminded of the fierce protectiveness felt for the hobbits, not only by the
King, but also by the other members of their Fellowship. A brief thought of
his brother Boromir, and his last desperate defense of Merry and Pippin
flashed through his mind with a pang.

Faramir dismissed the sad thought and said, "The word has begun to go around that it is useless to attempt to reach the pheriannath here at the Citadel, as the Guardsmen seem unable to understand the queries." He gave a wry smile.

Aragorn leaned back and chuckled. "And have we had any more of the young
ladies who have been also trying to make their acquaintance?" Faramir shook his head, grinning. "Not since Gimli made the last group remove their shoes. He inspected their feet, and told them that unless they could grow hair on their feet, their cause was hopeless, that thick hairy foot fur was essential to seducing a hobbit. And then he asked if any of them could grow beards."

Aragorn laughed. "I heard about that. He then set them on Legolas as a
distraction. I am sure that it worked, for the poor Elf has been looking
quite harried." He sat forward. "I am hoping that having them move into the
guesthouse will help the situation. We will not let it be generally known
that they are no longer staying here at the Citadel. When we wrote to you
from Cormallen to ask you if you knew of a place, Gandalf and I were very
concerned that the hobbits would find staying in the Citadel uncomfortable.
We were very pleased at your suggestion of the guesthouse. Gandalf told me
he had very nearly forgot about the guesthouse he used to use, but that it
would be most suitable for the hobbits' stay."

"It seemed logical to me. For Mithrandir had often used that house when I
was a child." Faramir was pleased that the King had liked his suggestion. "I should have realized, from what I observed of Merry, that the hobbits did not care for heights."

"No, they do not care for sleeping in upper floors, not even one storey up,
much less as high up as they are here. Pippin tolerates it best, but even he
is somewhat uncomfortable in their present quarters."

Faramir shifted. He had said what he came to say, and had other duties
claiming his attention. He would not leave, however, without being

Aragorn noticed, and smiled. "I know you have much to do. Feel free to go on
about your business. I do thank you for bringing the presence of Menelcar to
my attention. I will look forward to meeting this bard who nearly lured our
young Peregrin away from the Shire."

As Sam approached the chamber where the hobbits stayed, he could have sworn he heard the sound of a harp. That was mighty strange, that was. He did hear a harp!

Puzzled, he stopped before entering. Then when he did open the door, all
eyes turned in his direction. It looked like everyone except Gandalf and
Strider were in there, as well as someone who *was* playing a harp-- "Well!" he exclaimed, "as I live and breathe, if it isn't Mr. Menelcar!"

Frodo pretended to be surprised at Sam's appearance. "Sam! Come in! Look who Pippin found in the City!"

As Sam entered the room, the Man rose and bowed. "Master Samwise. It is good to see you again."

"Well, it is right good to see you again, too, Mr. Menelcar!" He looked at
Pippin. "Wherever did you find him, Mr. Pippin?"

Pippin grinned. "Under a cabbage leaf?" Merry snickered, Frodo shook his
head, and Menelcar looked confused.

The chamber was quite crowded now, with all four hobbits, Elf, Dwarf and
Man, but everyone had found a space to be seated, Menelcar and Legolas on
the floor, the others either on one of the beds or chairs.

"Well, Sam, what do you think of our house?" asked Frodo, just a bit
anxious, for he really liked the idea of moving into the guesthouse.

"Mr. Frodo, it's right nice. I should think it'd be suitable for all of us."
He shook his head. "It's a shame poor Mr. Strider is still going to be stuck
up away here." Merry and Pippin nodded their agreement, but Legolas had to
put a hand to his mouth to hide a grin. He was amused at the hobbits’
opinions of the splendid Citadel, of which Men were so proud, and decided he
would be teasing Aragorn about this later.

"So," said Merry, "when do we move in?"

Frodo sat forward. "If everyone is happy about it, I do not see why we could
not move down there as soon as tomorrow."

"No reason at all," said another voice, from the now open doorway.

"Gandalf! Do come in!"

"No, I thank you, Frodo. It looks as though the room is quite full enough
without my presence. However, I am to convey to you Aragorn's wish that we
all dine with him this evening. He also would request that one Master
Menelcar would perform for him this evening at the meal. He is eager to hear the minstrel of whom we have heard so much!"

Menelcar's eyes widened. Hiding his shock at being asked to sing for the
High King, he answered in his best professional tones, "I will be glad to
sing for so august a Company."

The Fellowship had gathered in the King's apartments in a chamber that was fitted out as a small private dining room. Of those present, only Faramir and Menelcar had not been members of the Company that had set out from Rivendell. Faramir thought perhaps that he had been asked because of Boromir. Menelcar, of course, was there in his professional capacity.

Right after Gandalf had delivered the invitation, the Citadel's chamberlain had taken Menelcar off, to find him a place where he could rest and rehearse, and given him some garments more appropriate to performing for the King. He had also been given an early meal, so that he could perform for the diners. As the Company and the Steward gathered, he sat on a chair in one corner, strumming his harp.

Aragorn entered the room after all the others had assembled. As they rose, or stopped their conversations to pay him homage, he shook his head. "No, not tonight. Tonight I am Strider, and you are all my friends. I wanted one more night together, while you are all still under this roof." Frodo noticed that Aragorn was not wearing any sign of his authority tonight. He smiled to himself. Being King was his friend's destiny and duty, but it certainly wasn't to his liking.

The servants soon brought the meal; food in abundance, and rather simple fare compared to the feasts that had become standard since Frodo and Samwise had awakened. The friends began to eat, enjoying one another's company and conversation, along with Menelcar's gentle harp music playing in the background.

Merry was telling a story of how, one night on the journey through Hollin,
Boromir had missed his footing in the dark, and slid into a bramble bush.

"So, there he was, well and truly caught. Strider was going to try to cut
him free, but it would really have been awkward, and he would have had
scratches all over his face and arms. But Pippin just ambled over and
started untangling him. He had your brother out in no time, Faramir, and
with only a few scratches."*

Faramir could only imagine his brother's consternation at something so
embarrassing. He looked at Pippin, who was grinning at the memory.
"And just how, Pippin, did you know you could get him out so easily?"

Pippin laughed, and Frodo said, "Oh, Pippin has very nimble fingers. As a
young lad, his mother and sisters were forever asking him to untangle their knitting, or untie the knots that no one else could figure out."

"Of course, half the time it was my fault the knitting was tangled in the
first place. I had to learn how to untangle it out of self-defense. And I
was usually responsible for the knots as well."

"Ah." Faramir chuckled. "Why does that not surprise me?"

As the servants brought in the sweet courses, Aragorn stretched back in his chair, and brought out his pipe. "Master Menelcar, we have been enjoying your harp. Please now would you fain sing for us?"

The minstrel nodded. "This song I will sing first, Sire, is in your honor. My old master on a time, was asked to leave the White City, for the singing of this song. Ever after, I have sung it wherever I go, in his memory:

"Let ancient prophecies relate
Concerning King's or Kingdom's fate.
I think myself to be as wise
As he that gazeth on the skies.
My sight goes beyond
The depth of a pond
Or rivers in the greatest rain.
Whereby I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again!
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again!"

Faramir sat forward as he listened. He had not heard this song since he was a small lad. He'd not realized before this that his father had banned the singing of it in the City, but it did not surprise him. Denethor took pride in the line of Stewards, but he did not look for the return of a King.

"When at last he shall return,
None his rightful claim shall spurn;
Nor refuse for any cause
Justice of those ancient laws.
Deny who would
Elendil's blood,
Naught shall halt the rightful reign.
For all's to no end,
The times will not mend
Till the King enjoys his own again!
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again!"

Aragorn smiled. He had heard this song often as Thorongil, and it had
thrilled and humbled him at the same time.

"A thousand years the royal crown
Hath awaited the fair brow;
For is there anyone but he
That of the same should sharer be?
Who better may
The scepter sway,
Than he that hath such right to reign?
Then shall there be peace,
And the wars they will cease,
When the King enjoys his own again!
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again!

Though for a time that fair White Tree
Leaf and branch doth withered be,
Bereft beneath a shadowed sky
While seasons long hath passed it by--
Once more shall it bloom
With rare perfume
That falls like sweet rain.
The old renewed shall be,
When the time you see,
That the King enjoys his own again!
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again!

Then fears avaunt, upon the hill
My hope shall cast her anchor still.
Until I see some peaceful dove
Bring home the branch I dearly love.
Then will I wait
Till the waters abate
Which now disturb my troubled brain,
Then for ever rejoice,
When I've heard the voice
That the King enjoys his own again!
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again!" (1)

Menelcar followed this stirring and serious song with one of Bilbo Baggins' comic songs, the very song in fact that Frodo had sung upon the table at Bree, and the hobbits and Gandalf were nodding their heads in time to the music. Aragorn laughed as it ended. "You will note, Frodo, that he does *not* punctuate the song by dancing on the table!"

The minstrel sang several more songs, some of them new to the Company, and others like old friends, familiar and homely. Pippin was nodding his head and tapping his feet, and obviously itching to sing once more with his old friend.

Menelcar met his eyes, and nodded. "If you will, Pippin, I would have you
sing the last song with me?"

Pippin glanced at Aragorn, who nodded. He got up with alacrity, and went to Menelcar‘s side. The minstrel played a couple of chords on the harp, and Pippin remembered the song, one he had learned from the bard during his stay in the Shire.

Menelcar began the song in his rich baritone:

"I ask not for ease and riches
Nor earth's jewels for my part;
But I have the best of wishes
For a pure and honest heart."

Pippin added his sweet tenor to the Man's voice as they sang the chorus.

"Oh, pure heart so true and tender
Fairer than the lilies white
The pure heart alone can render
Songs of joy both day and night."

Then the hobbit sang the second verse:

"Should I cherish earthly treasure
It would fly on speedy wings.
The pure heart a plenteous measure
Of true pleasure daily brings."

Then the two of them joined their voices once more, for the rest of the
song. As Pippin sang the last verse, he looked at Frodo, his green eyes
filled with tears. Frodo's was the purest heart he knew, and Pippin felt he
was singing straight to his cousin's soul. If only Frodo could realize it,
if only he could find songs of joy again.

"Oh, pure heart so true and tender
Fairer than the lilies white;
The pure heart alone can render
Songs of joy both day and night.

Eve and morn my prayers ascending
To utmost West on wings of song;
Seek the joy that knows no ending
The pure heart that knows no wrong.

Oh, pure heart so true and tender
Fairer than the lilies white;
The pure heart alone can render
Songs of joy both day and night." (2)

The singers finished, and Menelcar played through the chorus on his harp
only, one last time, before the notes died, and he and Pippin bowed.
There was a silence far more appreciative than applause.

Gimli blew his nose rather loudly, which broke the mood. Aragorn stood.
"Master Menelcar, Pippin, that was wonderful."

This seemed to be the signal to rise from the table, and the rest of the
company did so.

Menelcar saw to putting his harp in its case; there had been no talk ahead
of time of remuneration, but he did not think the King would stint him.

Faramir approached, and handed him a purse, with a smile. He took it
gratefully. Then he turned to find himself face to face with the King.

"Sire," he said, with a slight bow.

"Master Menelcar, I find myself favorably impressed with your choice of
material. I will need a Court Bard. Is that a position you might consider?"

Menelcar stared, stunned.

* Marigold suggested I put a link to it here; “A Thorny Problem”, one of “Dreamflower’s Mathoms”:

(1) Song adapted from a folksong found at:
(2) Song adapted from a folksong found at:

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