Characters: Glorfindel, Aragorn/Estel, Halbarad, Elves
Source: Pre-Ring War
Disclaimer: Tolkien’s characters and world-building.
Notes: OK, I admit – ‘taking to the water’ is getting tenuous!
The Rangers muttered mutinously when Glorfindel announced he would be taking Aragorn. They subsided to silence when his flash of anger proved literal. Having soothed the wounded man, Glorfindel abruptly stood; turned… four elves ran from the darkness.
“Cut saplings, make a sling.”
“Lord,” ventured one man, “A traverse will jar him intolerably.”
The elf-lord nodded, “They will carry him.”
“All the way to Imladris?!”
“No. They shipped here on the Bruinen; that way we return.”
Glorfindel looked them over, singling out a young ranger.
“You… You know Estel?”
“Yes, barely… but…”
“No matter. You come with us.”
The events since the raid had blurred for young Halbarad. He’d received punishing bruises, but nothing like the wound Aragorn fought against. Now… elves! From nowhere! Halbarad swallowed his fears.
As commanded, they swiftly returned with two long saplings; then laid out cloaks and laced them at either end… before their leader tenderly lifted Aragorn, as if a mere child… laying him atop the cloaks.
“Lay down with him.”
“L-lord?” stuttered Halbarad.
“He needs warmth, you are the lightest.”
Halbarad obeyed, unsure, but… immediately, the sling rose, the elves sprinted away.
This must be what being aboard ship feels like…
The swaying of the hammock became a rhythm not altogether unpleasant, and Halbarad’s fears relaxed when he realised how sure-footed the elves were, and that they were not about to drop their cargo.
Aragorn shivered, fretting… his consciousness an unmoored raft among rapids; Halbarad tried to hush him.
“Put your arm and leg across him,” said the elf behind, “he needs your body’s warmth.”
Halbarad did so, blushing at the unaccustomed contact, surprised his companion’s skin felt hot beneath his fingers and thigh.
“It is the fever. He still needs warmth.”
Halabard nodded, doing his best to hold Aragorn closely.
Glorfindel had galloped away when they started, the hoof-beats soon fading from hearing. Inside the enclosing sling, Halbarad’s world became the ragged breathing of the man half-under him, and the occasional words of elvish he didn’t understand. One chuckled softly at some remark, only to appear to be censured by another…
Eventually, they slowed; Halbarad heard babbling water… shortly, he was laid onto grassy tussocks. Looking across, he saw three slender boats being lashed together.
Glorfindel came. “We raft-up the craft, it will move faster with all paddling together. Stay with him.”
Something Halbarad found he was happy to do.