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Hearts of Men  by Aelaer

A/N: This story is "AU" in the sense that on the probability scale of "likely to have happened" and "likely did not happen", this is much closer to the "likely did not happen" side. The latter side is rather fun to explore, nonetheless. This story was written to fulfill a really nasty political-angst plot bunny that has been biting on my ankle for a long time. To give you some sort of idea, I began writing snippets and outlines in 2008; the basic idea is older than that.

The genre of this story is "a book-verse political drama with a good dose of friendship, a drop of canon romance, a spattering of humor, and a few spoonfuls of action and angst". Secret ingredients may apply.

For simplicity's sake, dates are written with English month names and refer to days in Shire-reckoning (the same as in the LOTR Appendix B). All months have 30 days, and the two days with special names in between June and July covered in this story belong to no month. My thanks to the Shire-reckoning website for being a great tool for dates and the moon cycles throughout 3019.

Thank you to Cairistiona for the beta; it simply would not be what it is now without her help and wonderful nit-picking to make it really shine. A shout out to my friend C, who sat with me for a month, writing 50k words of fan fic. A big thanks to Nefhiriel for bouncing ideas back and forth in the early stages of this story, and for nurturing the plot bunny into what became this huge tree. Frankly put, if she had not been there, this likely still would only be a loosely sketched seed.

I hope you enjoy.


I never knew I had a twin. No one knew, not even the one who has my face. But the moment I first saw him, sitting on a great horse in front of a mighty procession, I knew that somehow the One had made a mistake; after all, how could I have a twin that was not of the same mother? He surely was meant to have another face, for my face solely belongs to me.

But nay, it now belongs to him as well, and for that I am cursed! He is much higher in class than I, and despite all of my struggles, I could never hope to be as exalted as he. Because he is of the higher ranking and of much greater renown, I am always compared to him; he is never compared to me. I don't believe he even knows of my existence.

"You just need to trim the beard," once said an old crone to me, "trim the beard, and grow out your hair a little longer. And carry yourself with more confidence, like he does. Then you'll look exactly like our lord."

Our lord, indeed! This outlander, this stranger that my countrymen so readily accept! They forget that they have known me for years. They forget our laughter and our tears and readily replace my face with his. "You look exactly like him," old friends say. But does he look exactly like me?

Bah! All of this nonsense because of his lineage. If he were but another man I'd retain my identity. He would look like me, not I like him. But no, this world is not a just one. I have lived in this fair city for all of my life and have established my identity through the many long years— yet a royal foreigner struts in and, within a couple of months, manages to take all that I have worked for. I am not me anymore; I am simply a commoner who looks like our new king.

I thought this sense of lost identity would fade with time. I continued on with life, and worked as hard as any man in the City. In time, the comments came less frequently, and those that were made I learned to brush off more easily than before. But still they eat at my heart, and I cannot forget that he has replaced me. I am not myself anymore; I am simply a look-alike of Elessar.

I wish I had the power to change his face. It would retain its fairness, but it would be distinctly his and not mine. Would I change my own features if I could? No, no, why should I? I was born in this city and established myself here long before he did. My face solely belongs to me. As it is, I have not the power to change the shape of life.

Despite my lack of power, I know that I must do something as my thoughts continue to darken. My life simply cannot continue as it is going, for I want to be the only one who possesses my face— my identity. My twin cannot continue to exist within the picture.

I do not care what life I live; I would be content as a beggar at this point of time if I only could have my identity once more. Wherever I end up, this I do swear: I will take back what is mine.


All of my OCs, and most canon characters mentioned, are included on this list. The list is spoiler-free of any events that happen in the story (other than, of course, what happens in LOTR: ROTK, the book).

High Lords/Ladies
Aragorn Elessar - King of Gondor and Arnor. Also known as Estel (his childhood name) and Elfstone in the story. Once traveled to Gondor as Thorongil.
Arwen Undómiel
- Daughter of Elrond; queen and wife of Aragorn. Also known as Evenstar.
(mentioned) - Brother to Faramir; died during the Quest of the Ring.
- Lord of Lórien, father-in-law to Elrond.
- Son of Elrond, twin of Elrohir.
- Son of Elrond, twin of Elladan.
- Lord of Imladris, father of Elladan, Elrohir, Arwen. Foster-father of Aragorn.
(mentioned) - King of Rohan, brother to Éowyn.
(mentioned) - Sister of Éomer and future wife of Faramir.
- Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien.
- Lady of Lórien, mother-in-law to Elrond.
(mentioned) - Cousin of Aragorn; died in the Battle on the Pelennor Fields.
(OMC) - Son of Halbarad and Steward of Arnor.
- Warden of the Keys of Minas Tirith. Cousin of Faramir. Rules Minas Tirith in the absence of the King, Queen, and Steward.
- Prince of Dol Amroth of Belfalas. Faramir's uncle.
(mentioned) - Only daughter of Imrahil. Eventually marries Éomer.

Members of the Council of Gondor
- youngest son of Imrahil, cousin of Faramir, representative of Belfalas.
(OMC) - Son of Angbor; father is a lord of Lamedon.
(OMC) - A lord from Lebennin.
- Son of lord of Ringlo Vale.
(OMC) - Lord of Anórien.
(OMC) - Son of Hirluin, representative of Green Hills.
(OMC) - Lord of Pelargir.

Members of the Council of Minas Tirith
(OMC) - One of the guild-masters of the Merchant's Guild.
(OMC) - Head of the Stonemason's Guild.
(OMC) - Head of the Woodworking Guild.
(OMC) - One of the guild-masters of the Merchant's Guild.
(OMC)- Master of the docks of Harlond.
(OFC)- Head of the Jeweler's Guild.

Members of the Guard
(mentioned) - Captain of the Steward's White Company.
(OMC) - Member of the Royal Guard.
(OMC) - Captain of the Royal Guard; father of Galerthor.
(OMC) - Son of Galdir; guard of Minas Tirith.
(OMC) - Son of Halbarad, kinsman to Aragorn; member of the Royal Guard.
(OMC) - Lieutenant of the Royal Guard.
(OMC) - Dúnadan and kinsman of Aragorn; member of the Royal Guard.
(OMC) - Guard at the Citadel.
(OMC) - Captain of the Citadel Guard.
(OMC) - Member of the Royal Guard.

(OMC) - Citizen of Minas Tirith; cobbler.
(OMC) - Warden of the Houses of Healing (who was unnamed in the book).
(OMC) - Elf of Imladris; friend of the Queen
(OMC) - Lord Chamberlain of the King's House.
(OMC) - Citizen of Lossarnach; servant.
- Wizard, also known as Mithrandir; member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
- Healer in the Houses of Healing.
(OFC, mentioned) - Elf; sister of Elthalion.
(OMC) - Citizen of Lossarnach; stable hand.
(OFC) - Citizen of Minas Tirith; servant.
(OFC) - Citizen of Minas Tirith; wife to Galdir.
(OMC) - Secretary to the King.
(OFC) - Citizen of Minas Tirith; servant.
(OMC) - Citizen of Lossarnach; sword-master.
The Tutor
(OMC) - Citizen of Minas Tirith; scholar and tutor.


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