Title – From Riches to Rags
Author: Linda Hoyland
Characters/Pairing: Aragorn, Faramir, Beregond, Ocs
Warnings: injuries, implied violence
Book/Source: LOTR book-verse
Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
Written for the AA List prompt "Blanket" and dedicated to lilybaggins to whom I'd promised some Aragorn h/c. Sorry it's not very polished, I just wrote what jumped into my head.
“He’s here, bring a light!” Beregond called.
Almost as swiftly as an arrow in flight, Faramir appeared, the other men followed as best they could, struggling to keep a footing on the sodden ground
Faramir sank on the ground beside the still figure on the ground oblivious of the rain and the mud. Nearby Roheryn watched them, pawing the ground with his great hooves.
“The king is alive,” Beregond assured him. “ I detected a pulse. I think he must have fallen and struck his head.”
“We must get him to shelter,” said Faramir, noting Aragorn’s pallid features and sodden clothing. His voice was scarcely audible against the wind and rain.
Aragorn stirred and moaned softly. His grey eyes flickered open.
“Where are you hurt, mellon nîn?” Faramir asked urgently.
“What?” Aragorn sounded bewildered. He closed his eyes again.
“Is it safe to move him?” one of the men asked.
“We cannot leave him here in the cold and rain,” said Beregond. “That would kill him more swiftly than any injuries he might have.”
“We passed a cottage about a mile back, we shall ask them for shelter, ” Faramir decided. “Beregond, help me get him on my horse. Whoever has the swiftest horse must ride on ahead. Unless you meet with resistance, it is better our identities remain secret. Enemies could be lurking while simple folk might be overwhelmed if their King and Steward came upon them thus.”
The Steward urged his mount to move as swiftly as could safely be achieved under the treacherous conditions. Why, oh why had they gone in search of a renegade band of Southrons in this weather? he wondered .Aragorn had spotted their trail and gone on ahead. Now he was injured, maybe gravely so.
Aragorn thrashed around and continued to groan. The short journey seemed endless as Faramir attempted to soothe him while guiding his horse through the mud.
Lamps were burning in the cottage window when they arrived, and an old woman stood at the threshold. “You are welcome, travellers,” she said. “Come and sit by the fire. I will bring blankets and hot drinks.”
With Beregond’s assistance, Faramir carried his lord into the living area. They left puddles of rainwater in their wake as they moved. Faramir and Beregond looked doubtfully at Aragorn’s sodden form, then at the dry covers on the bed.
“We need to get him out of those wet things first,” said Faramir. “If we sit him on the chair first -” He cast aside his own sodden cloak, as did Beregond. Underneath, their clothing was fairly dry. They began by peeling off Aragorn’s dripping cloak and boots, discovering the garments he wore beneath were equally soaked.
The old woman entered with two worn blankets. ”I’ll brew some tea while you get dry,” she said, retiring to the kitchen.
“Hardly fit for a king, but these will have to suffice,” said Faramir as soon as she was out of earshot. He started to ease Aragorn’s dripping tunic over his head, while Beregond pulled at his breeches.”
Aragorn started to struggle fiercely. “Desist and let me be!” he cried.
“You need to get warm and dry, mellon nîn,” Faramir said gently but firmly.
Not wishing to be forced to choose between obeying their King or their Steward, the other men slunk after the woman into the kitchen. Only Beregond remained with his former Captain.
“Easy, it is I,” Faramir, soothed. Even Aragorn’s linens were soaked and his bluish tinged skin felt icy to the touch. Once his shirt was removed, a vast bruise across his shoulder, which spread down, was revealed, matching an ugly bruise on his head. It seemed Aragorn recognised his friend’s voice as his struggles abated.
“It looks as if he was struck,” Beregond said grimly, as they wrapped the wretched blankets around him. “I assume one of those Southron brutes saw him and struck him down, thinking he was alone and would not survive the elements long.”
“They will pay,” said Faramir grimly, momentarily as chilled to the bone as the King. ”Let us move him on the bed. I will move it nearer the fire. He most likely has cracked or broken ribs, at the very least, severe bruising. I will see if he has some salve in his pack.” He rummaged amongst Aragorn’s healing supplies, which had remained safely stowed in his saddle bags and selected a jar of comfrey ointment, which he applied liberally to Aragorn’s bruises. Though he tried to be as gentle as he could, Aragorn groaned at the lightest touch. Faramir’s anger surged; how dare anyone treat his lord thus? If any one of them had been injured Aragorn’s healing hands would have tended them and eased their pain rather than increased it!
“I will see if the lady of the house has a hot drink for him,” said Beregond
Faramir kicked off his muddy boots and damp outer tunic and climbed up beside Aragorn, cradling his blanket shrouded form in his arms, trying to offer warmth and reassurance. Aragorn groaned again.
“You will soon be well and home with your lady,” Faramir promised him.
“Cold,” Aragorn murmured.
Beregond returned the next moment with mugs of steaming tea, and held one to the King’s lips while Faramir continued to support him. Aragorn managed to sip the hot drink. After a few minutes he started to shiver, a good sign that he was starting to get warmer.
When the cup was drained, Aragorn sank back against the lumpy pillow. ”Tired,” he whispered.
Faramir put his hand on Aragorn’s chest beneath the ragged coverings. His skin was feeling warmer and his heart beat strongly. His companions were taking no chances, though, and remained throughout the night curled side of him; wakeful and watchful while their lord slept.
The sun was streaming through the cottage window the next morning when Aragorn opened his eyes. ”Where am I?” he enquired. “An old woman gave us shelter in her cottage,” said Faramir, trying to ease his aching arms to a more comfortable position. ”She does not know who we are.”
“I remember now, Faramir, ”I was struck with a cudgel,” said Aragorn, ”They came upon me unawares, but Roheryn bolted before they could do me any great mischief, though I feel as if a mumak has sat upon me! Why are you smiling like that, mellon nîn?”
“That you are awake and in your right mind!” Faramir found himself blinking back tears of joy. He shifted himself into a more comfortable position.
“Whatever have you wrapped me in?” Aragorn exclaimed. “These blankets itch indescribably!”
“It was all the old woman had,” said Beregond.
“And I shall see she is richly rewarded,” said the King.
Just then the old woman entered with a bundle of clothing. “I dried these in the kitchen,” she said producing all Aragorn’s garments and the cloaks and tunics of the other two. “These are mighty fine linens, fit for the King himself, I’d wager! You are welcome to bide here until you are fully recovered, sir,” she told Aragorn.
“Thank you, your kind hospitality saved my life,” Aragorn told her gravely. His spirits rising considerably at the prospect of shedding the itchy blankets in favour of his own more comfortable garb. Soon he would be reunited with Arwen and his children, saved from an untimely death, not only by his loyal friend and his men, but also by one of his most lowly subjects and two tattered blankets!