Characters: Young Aragorn and Young Halbarad
Source: Pre Ring War
Disclaimer: Tolkien’s characters, Kortirion’s incidents and inferences.
It was some months before Halbarad dared ask Aragorn about his past – the subject was avoided, the young Rangers had been ordered not to pry and under no circumstances talk to strangers about him.
What made it easier was unseasonably wet weather, colds abounded - now Aragorn lay feverish, shivering… and just a little drunk. Halfine’s cold-remedy was brandy-wine and honey in willow-bark tea… Halbarad thought a good dose would help.
“What are they like…?”
“Oh… Like you, b’ not like you… Strong… beautiful… play games, fight… have favourites… b’ somehow… different…”
“Do you miss them?”
Aragorn shifted on his bed, wincing.
“Shoulders ache?” Halbarad asked.
Aragorn nodded then shivered violently, which made him cough.
“Go’way – you’ll catch it too…” Aragorn wheezed.
“Nah – so many elder brothers I was always catching something, I’ll survive. Let me help…”
Halbarad picked up the quilt and put it around Aragorn.
“Turn and I’ll massage your back – yes, do it!”
Aragorn mumbled but obeyed, Halbarad sat behind him.
“Hurts… y’know… “ muttered Aragorn, “…like stomach-ache, when I think of them… like a kick in the guts…
“I miss my family too… you can talk… if it helps…”
And Aragorn did.
Into the small hours they talked, or... Aragorn talked and Halbarad listened, prompting him occasionally with questions. Aragorn talked of Imladris, still home to him, of his brothers, their orc-hunts, of his mother’s hopes, sorrows, his legacy. He spoke of the Sea, the deep forests, fabled elves and the Golden Wood… and now and again of his love for an especially beautiful un-named lady…
The two Rangers ended up sharing the bottle of honeyed brandy-wine – which was why Halbarad woke up feeling just a bit nauseous, though his head didn’t hurt that badly.
Must be the willow-bark… he thought hazily.
The two of them were squeezed into Aragorn’s bed, barely half-dressed, Halbarad discovered, under the piled bed-clothes from both beds. Aragorn slept soundly, snoring gently, but no longer feverishly hot, though his skin felt warm where their limbs touched… entwined…
Halbarad didn’t think anything happened… but his mind was fuzzy, still bedazzled with stories of valour, honour… ancient beings as beautiful as… as… Aragorn turned over, throwing an arm across Halbarad’s naked chest.
Someone scratched the door before cracking it open - a round-eyed servant boy scampered away.
Oh lord! Thought Halbarad, I’m going to get such earache about this!