These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
A/N This was written for the AA Group back in 2008 and has been languishing forgotten ever since.
"How Éowyn will scold us if we return empty handed!" Faramir said with a sigh. "We should never have volunteered to replenish her larder."
"I thought there was no better way to spend my visit here than a hunting trip so might impress our ladies with our skills. Now I can just imagine Arwen saying she thought she had married a Ranger; one who was said to be the greatest hunter and tracker of the Age," Aragorn replied glumly. He leaned heavily on his bow. "These woods around Emyn Arnen are said to be full of deer. Where have they all gone?"
"They must be hiding well," said Faramir, pacing the ground in frustration. "I have detected tracks but no deer apart from a doe with her fawn, which would not be fair sport."
A sudden movement caught Aragorn's eye. "Look! Over there by the stream," he whispered.
Faramir turned his head just in time to see a large stag disappearing between the trees. Swiftly he drew his bow, but before he could loose the arrow; the animal had vanished. He cursed softly in frustration.
"Come, let us give chase," cried Aragorn. "I will catch that stag if it is the last thing I do! We will bring our ladies venison to dine upon ere nightfall." Swift as a deer himself, he sped off in the direction of his quarry. Faramir followed, wondering not for the first time, why a man twice his age could usually outrun him.
The two hunters pursued their prey until they came to a fork in the path. Uncertain which way the stag had gone, Aragorn took one path while Faramir took the other.
The Steward was certain he was on the right track, as several times he caught a brief glimpse of the elusive deer. A sudden movement ahead of him in the undergrowth made him pause in his tracks. Smiling with grim satisfaction, Faramir nocked an arrow. They would dine well tonight and Éowyn would be impressed that he had supplied their table so well. He could see the stag clearly ahead of him. He fired, only for the animal to veer sharply to the right and disappear through the trees.
"Argh!" the cry of pain was no wounded deer.
A sudden feeling of cold dread seized the Steward. He plunged into the undergrowth in the direction of the cries. There was no sign of the stag, but under a great oak was Aragorn. The King was staggering, his face contorted in pain. An arrow with Faramir's distinctive fletching was protruding from his shoulder. As Faramir approached, Aragorn sank to his knees, his face white with shock.
"No! Whatever have I done?" the Steward cried. He raced towards his friend and crouched down beside him, supporting him. "I have shot my King! I am so sorry, mellon nîn! I mistook you for the stag we were pursuing!"
"You shot me!" Aragorn's tone was both accusing and disbelieving. "Do I look like a stag?"
"Much rather would I have shot myself through the heart than wounded you!" Faramir's voice was thick with emotion. "The stag veered aside just as I loosed the arrow."
"I know it was an accident," said Aragorn in a calmer tone. He grimaced. "The path goes round in a circle, which we had forgotten since we last came this way. The arrow will have to be removed quickly ere the wound becomes infected. Fortunately my healing supplies are in my pack, if you would assist me?"
Very carefully, so as not to push the arrow in any deeper, Faramir eased the pack from Aragorn's shoulders. He quickly found the familiar and well-worn satchel containing the King's healing supplies. "What do you want me to do now?" he asked Aragorn, though he suspected all too well what gruesome task he would need to perform.
"Make a fire first," said Aragorn. "We need to boil some water." He looked far less pale now, much to Faramir's relief.
"There is a stream nearby," said Faramir. "I bring the boys here fishing. Before I fetch water, though, I had better cut away the shaft," said Faramir. He took his hunting knife from his belt. "Brace yourself, this will hurt!"
"Do it quickly!" Aragorn gritted his teeth.
Faramir took a deep breath and grasped the shaft in one hand and his knife in the other. To his amazement, the arrow fell to the ground. For a moment, he stared at Aragorn in horror, convinced that he had done him a further grievous injury.
"What the…?" Aragorn pulled aside the torn fabric of his tunic and shirt to reveal his shoulder disfigured by nothing worse than a flesh wound, little deeper than a severe graze.
"But the arrow struck you!" Faramir said haltingly, hardly daring to believe that Aragorn was not badly hurt.
"It hit me hard and gave me a shock, but must have just caught against the strap of my pack and become entangled in my clothing while the tip grazed my shoulder," said the King. "Just as well you were not aiming for me or the shot would not have gone awry." He reached for his healing supplies to grab a cloth to staunch the bleeding. "I will clean and bind it, but it is only a slight hurt."
Faramir kindled a fire. He then hastened to the stream, filled a pan with water and put it to heat.
Faramir helped Aragorn remove his tunic and shirt while the water boiled. "I fear you will be black and blue tomorrow," he said ruefully. "Your clothes are ruined too."
"It will not be for the first time. Luckily, they are old ones I keep for hunting," said Aragorn. "Arwen did not stitch this shirt." He dabbed at his shoulder. The bleeding was already abating. He cleaned the wound and applied some salve, then bandaged it with Faramir's help. "At least we have a good excuse why we did not catch anything," he said as Faramir helped him ease his arms back into his bloodied tunic and shirt.
"Our wives will never let us go hunting again!" Faramir said sadly. "I do not know whether your lady or mine will be the angrier with me!"
"We will persuade them to let us go again ere long," said Aragorn confidently. "Arwen claims I drive her to distraction if I am confined within doors for too long!" He placed a comforting hand on Faramir's shoulder. "Remember, mellon, nîn you are human. No one could have guessed the stag would bolt in front of me. Accidents can happen to anyone and no real harm is done." A sudden light kindled in his eyes. "Are there fish in the stream, did you say?"
"Plenty," said Faramir.
"Why not catch some while I rest a while?" Aragorn suggested. "Then we will not return empty handed to our ladies."
"An excellent idea," said Faramir.
A few hours later, two contented friends made their way back to Emyn Arnen. Aragorn, despite his torn and bloodied clothing had already almost forgotten the accident after a nap on a comfortable mossy bank. Meanwhile, Faramir had caught a brace of plump trout, but had slipped on the bank while doing so and was covered in mud. Neither man cared in the slightest about their disreputable appearance. They whistled cheerfully, ignoring the shocked expressions of various guards and servants they encountered.
Arwen, Éowyn and the older children came out to greet the returning wanderers.
"Whatever has happened to ada?" asked Eldarion.
"Why is ada all muddy?" asked Elestelle.
"I think they will have some adventures to tell us," said Éowyn.
"After they have bathed," said Arwen grimly.
"Be not alarmed at our appearance," said Aragorn. "We had a minor accident but all is well."
"And there will be freshly caught trout for dinner," Faramir added.
"I thought you promised me venison, " said Éowyn.
"It is a long story," said Faramir.
"Never mind, " said Arwen, "if truth be told I much prefer trout."
A big thank you to everyone who voted in the poll. Faramir won by a narrow margin so here is a truly ancient story that I wrote 6 years ago and never published. Please keep on voting to help me decide what to rescue next from the deepest vaults of my computer!