Format: Short Story.
Genre: Romance, adventure
Warnings: Very mild sexual content
Characters: Aragorn, Halbarad, Butterbur, Arwen,
Creator’s Notes (optional):
Summary:Aragorn and Halbarad seek shelter in a storm.
Feeling cold, stiff and hungry Aragorn slithered out from under the hedge where he had been sleeping and joined Halbarad who was already kindling a fire.
Despite wearing warm clothes and huddling together for warmth, the two had hardly slept in the bitter East wind.
As the flames shot up, Aragorn reached his hands towards them to warm them. He looked up at the lowering sky. “We need better shelter for tonight as the weather is set to get worse,” he said.
Halbarad nodded. ”Had I any coin to spare, I’d wager you whether we were set for rain, snow, sleet or hail."
“Most likely all four,” said Aragorn, putting a pot filled with water on the fire to boil.” This weather is too cold for even Orcs to be abroad.”
“I doubt we can reach the Angle before the clouds break,” said Halbarad. “I suggest we make for Bree and try to find shelter there in some deserted outbuilding.”
“Butterbur should let us have a room,” said Aragorn. “I have sufficient coin.”
“Oh for a warm bed and a good night’s sleep even for one night!” Halbarad sighed.
“I wake so often when I sleep under a hedge that I scarce can dream,” said Aragorn.
Halbarad laughed. “You miss dreaming! Thus speaks your upbringing in the House of Elrond, kinsman. I miss a thick goose down quilt!”
“So do I, so let us go in search of at least a straw mattress!” Aragorn drained the last of the herbal tea he had brewed and clapped Halbarad on the shoulder. The two gathered up their possessions and started off for Bree.
They had only gone a few miles when the heavens opened and a mixture of sleet and hail began to fall. The hailstones stung the Ranger’s faces painfully. They quickened their steps. Soon the hail and sleet turned to snow, the flakes falling so thick and fast it was hard to see the way ahead. Luckily, the way to Bree was a straight road so the two Rangers resolutely trudged ahead.
There were many travellers on their way to Bree to escape the storm. The Rangers were thankful that for once the Gatekeeper was too preoccupied to insult them and simply let them pass with a glare.
It seemed all the travellers were making their way to the Prancing Pony. When Aragorn and Halbarad finally entered they could hardly push their way through the crowded taproom. When Butterbur finally came to serve them, Aragorn ordered two tankards of ale, some stew, and a room for the night.
“Ale and stew there is aplenty,” said Butterbur. “Every room is taken though.”
The two Rangers visibly sagged.
“Can you suggest where else we might stay?” asked Aragorn.
Butterbur scratched his head. ”I don’t rightly know. Everywhere will be full on a night like this. It was market day and many folk are in town.”
“Could we sleep on the floor by the fire?” asked Halbarad.
Butterbur shook his head. “There’s already half a dozen folks doing that and they won’t want to share with no Rangers,” he replied.
“So you are sending us out into the freezing night?” Aragorn could not keep the bitterness from his tone.”
“It ain’t fit out there for a dog so I reckon it ain’t fit for no Rangers even either,” said the innkeeper. “If you don’t mind horses you can sleep in the stable, but don’t be going and stealing anything, mind!”
“Rangers are honest men,” said Aragorn with dignity. ”We thank you for your kind offer.”
“I hope I won’t live to regret it,” said Butterbur. “Now I’ve got customers to attend to.” He bustled away.
A serving wench brought the two Rangers their food and drink which they devoured with relish. All too soon their mugs were drained and their plates cleared.
Butterbur appeared with a lantern and showed them out to the stable. One of the stalls was unoccupied and it was there they prepared to settle down for the night.
“Now don’t be going a touching anything or disturbing honest folk in their beds,” admonished Butterbur. He left, taking the lantern with him.
The Rangers were left alone in the inky blackness out of which loomed several pairs of gleaming eyes, yellow, gold and green.
“What the?” exclaimed Halbarad.
“The stable cats,” said Aragorn with a chuckle. “At least no rats will disturb our slumbers.”
“To think that you should have to sleep in a stable!” said Halbarad. “You, who are entitled by birth to rule these lands.”
“I have known far worse,” said Aragorn. “At least we are warm and dry and the straw is clean. Now let us rest and hope the storm will have passed by the morrow.”
He burrowed into the hay and closed his eyes. He could hear occasional sounds from the horses and scuffles as the cats went about their nocturnal hunting. The stable faded and he was in front of a great city, which he recognised as Minas Tirith. Cheering crowds surrounded him and Master Elrond and Gandalf approached. Gandalf carried the crown while Elrond bore the sceptre of the Northern Kings. At his side, walked Arwen wearing a billowing silver garment.
“You have prevailed. Now take my daughter with my blessing,” said Elrond. Aragorn was just about to express his joy and gratitude when the scene changed. He was now alone with Arwen in a luxurious bedchamber. Her silver gown had been replaced by an almost sheer garment which accentuated every beautiful curve of her body.
She lay beside him on the bed and pulled him close. “Beloved!” she sighed. “How I have longed for this moment!” Her lips met his and he was filled with a blissful sensation from his crown to his toes. Just then, a horse neighed loudly.
Aragorn was just wondering what a horse was doing in the bridal bedchamber when he found himself back in the stable.
Halbarad was already abroad and patting a chestnut horse that was craning its neck into their stall. Sunlight streamed through the cracks in the doorway. ”I thought you would sleep the day away,” said Halbarad. “I had not the heart to wake you as by the way you were smiling you were having pleasant dreams.”
“Very pleasant,” said Aragorn, reluctantly forcing his mind back to the present. It was hard to leave the delightful images that the dream had conjured in his brain. But until his dreams became reality, in his slumbers he could taste what his heart so yearned for. “Come,” he said. “Let us partake of breakfast at the inn and be on our way while the sun shines on us. We should reach the Ranger encampment ere dusk.”