My Favorite Aragorn Stories
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Should've Thought of That One, Bori: 2. A Crash Course in Healing
Aragorn was mystified.
“What does he expect me to do?” the Dúnedain Chieftain cried, gazing dubiously at Boromir's sodden form, which was lying face-down on the gravelly bank, still half-immersed in water. “He took three bloody fatal wounds! I thought we'd settled this fifteen minutes ago!” He prodded the limp body with his boot. It emitted a low groan like the creaking hinges of an elderly door.
“OMG wtf arigorn mabie he wants u 2 use ur sooper-kewl elfan heeling powerz htat u learnd frum elroond,” exclaimed Legolas breathlessly.
There was a long pause. Not a silent one, given the way that two hundred tons of falling water can intrude on the poignancy of a private conversation, but a pause notwithstanding.
“What?” remarked Gimli, presently.
“Er, nothing,” muttered Legolas embarrassedly, his ivory-white skin turning several interesting shades of mortified fuchsia as he worried the loose end of his white-gold braid and minutely examined the toes of his shoes. “Just a little slip-up…”
“Right, then,” said Aragorn, feeling oddly wrongfooted, the way one might feel if one walked in on one's father taking a bath. He covered his confusion by peering down morosely at Boromir and repeating his previous query. “What does he expect me to do? I'm no healer. I'm just a grimy Gondorian ex-Ranger who wears women's jewelry and avoids political duty.”
“We could always leave him here,” suggested Gimli.
Aragorn sighed. “No, we can't.”
“Why not?” whined the Dwarf peevishly.
“Because he comes from Húrin house.”
“What's being a Hoora-whatsit got to do with it?” Gimli demanded.
“They have visions-prophetic dreams and the lot.”
“His father or brother might have a dream about Boromir.”
“They fight find out that we abandoned him.”
“I'd prefer not to start out my kingship with getting assassinated.”
“So you get them both on trumped-up treason charges and execute them before they can incriminate you. Simple,” Gimli said flatly.
Before Aragorn had a chance to effectively consider this suggestion, and thus shorten the story by a good ten chapters at least, Legolas, who had used his companions' conversation as time to come to grips with his previous embarrassment, piped up, “Isn't there a phrase about this? A proverb or something?” He paused, wrinkling his delicate nose. “Something about Kings' hands and the like?'”
“'The hands of a King are the hands of a dealer?'” Aragorn put in. “That's what Elladan and Elrohir used to say whenever they wanted to play blackjack…”
There was some rustling from down on the ground as Boromir stirred fitfully. Blearily, he opened one eye. “'The hands of a King are the hands of a healer, you arse!” he groaned before passing out yet again.
This was immediately followed by the second lengthy pause in five minutes.
“So all that time I was dealing cards for nothing?!” cried Aragorn indignantly.
When one attempts an Emergency Surgical Procedure, there are a few general rules of which to be mindful. They are listed for your viewing convenience.
1. You will need athelas. There are a great many reputable healing herbs in existence, but when carrying out an Emergency Surgical Procedure in the middle of a remote wilderness area, athelas is the only botanical that should be utilized. So forget your parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme-athelas, athelas, athelas.
2. Measure twice, cut once.
3. A Surgical Procedure isn't a Surgical Procedure unless you can slice something open and burn it shut again. Have hot metal nearby, and be prepared to do some cauterizing.
4. Don't remove something if you don't know what it is.
5. Keep an anesthetic on hand. A heavy blunt object will suffice in the lack of something more sophisticated.
6. If your patient doesn't have a religion, encourage him or her to adopt one before you begin the operation. It's better to be safe than sorry.
7. Ascertain beforehand whether you are in possession of any sooper-kewl elfan heeling powerz. They probably won't be very helpful, practically, but they may serve as a minor confidence booster for both healer and patient.
8. Don't attempt an Emergency Surgical Procedure unless you are acquainted with and fully understand the abovementioned Rules. In fact, it's best if you don't attempt an Emergency Surgical Procedure at all, if there's any other conceivable option, such as euthanasia or voluntary suicide.
It didn't take long for Aragorn to violate Rule #2.
“Is he supposed to be bleeding like that?” asked Gimli tentatively, peering over the shoulder of Aragorn, who was busily bloodying Boromir's cloak and spare tunics in an attempt to staunch the warm liquid flow pouring from his chest.
“Are you questioning my expertise as a healer?” Aragorn snapped irritably.
“Er… no, never,” replied the Dwarf, watching as Aragorn ground a tangled clump of dried athelas in his fist and sprinkled it haphazardly into the wound. “I was just wondering whether that incision was absolutely necessary…”
“Of course it was necessary,” said the would-be King tersely. “Bleeding patients is a well-known medical practice. You have to get all the bad blood out of the system.”
Gimli privately thought that Boromir had lost quite enough blood from his preexisting wounds before Aragorn had sliced him open, but chose to say nothing-partially because Aragorn's temper ought not to be tested at this sort of moment, and also because he didn't want to inadvertently offer any advice that might promote Boromir's survival.
Boromir was, at present, propped against the splayed roots of a large oak, having finally been dragged out of the water so that pneumonia needn't be added to his growing list of medical problems. Aragorn had begun the procedure by stripping Boromir of his mail and tunic.
There had been, at that moment, a sound that resembled that of ten thousand fangirls swooning, but Legolas, who had pranced down the River to preen as far away from the operation as possible, had just rotated his left big toe a thirteenth of an inch counterclockwise, so the cause remained ambiguous.
Aragorn had then announced, dramatically, that he was making the Incision. Gimli had asked, “What Incision?” To which Aragorn had replied, “This Incision,” and made one. Boromir had then resigned himself to the diverting task of bleeding to death.
The Ranger was now dusting Boromir arbitrarily with crushed athelas leaves and remarking that he might open his own practice once he was settled at Minas Tirith. Gimli made a mental note to invent a list of excuses to present for whenever Aragorn happened to invite him for a visit to Gondor.
Aragorn was searching his fanny pack for more Kingsfoil and Gimli was debating whether he could throw his axe and hit the Elf at this range when Boromir coughed and stirred.
He felt strangely lightheaded. Kaleidoscopic colors flashed across his vision, and the beginnings of a powerful headache beat a steady rhythm within his cranium. He opened his eyes.
Aragorn was squatting in front of him. Blood spattered his arms almost to the elbows.
“You're bleeding. How'd you get injured?” he asked woozily.
Aragorn stared at him with his mouth agape.
Very, very slowly, Boromir inclined his head, and very, very slowly, it registered that there was a pound of mincemeat where his chest was supposed to be.
It then became clear that he was, once again, in a great deal of physical Pain.
Boromir of Gondor was out cold for the fourth time that day.
“Is he dead?” inquired Gimli, trying not to sound too optimistic.
“No,” sighed Aragorn. Then, “Let me try something different.”
It was strange, this netherworld, a sinuous land of swirling blacks and grays. His breath rose like mist before his eyes, and the swirling current of invisible waters tugged at his boots. A shimmering shadow hung in the distance, behind which the outlines of flitting shapes could just be discerned.
“What a dump,” Aragorn said aloud.
He hoped that whatever lay on the other side of the shadow was more interesting than this, because if this was it-hell, what a waste! To spend one's whole life working like a dog, only to end up here!
He sloshed moodily through the dingy river, calling as he went.
“BoroMIIIR! BoroMIIIIR! BoroMIIIR! BoroMIR, you ass, get over here!”
Boromir could hear someone calling his name.
Peering over the crest of an iron-gray hill, he could just make out the shape of his supposed liege-Lord, wandering morosely down in the valley. Well, let him wander. Boromir was in no hurry to return to reality just yet, where there were Orcs and prissy Elves and ornery Dwarves and grimy Rangers and Pain. And he certainly wasn't about to immediately hearken to the call of a man who had nearly sent him over the brink of a waterfall in an unmanned boat and then proceeded to butcher him in a woeful attempt at surgery. He would respond in his own good time, if he saw fit to respond at all.
“Boromir,” said a second, softer voice, much closer this time. Boromir whirled around and saw…
“Mother!” He rushed forward to embrace her.
“No,” said Finduilas, holding out a hand to halt him. “You must not touch me. It would draw you over to the other side of the vale, to death.”
“But if you're here,” said Boromir slowly, scratching the crown of his head, “aren't I dead? Haven't you come to take me to the afterlife or something?”
“Not yet,” replied the lady of Dol Amroth, smiling. “I am an emissary, sent to guide you back to life. Your time has not yet come, Boro-mir. There is one here who will call you to the Light.”
“I suppose you mean that lout, Aragorn? I'm not going anywhere with him.”
“You'll do as you're told, Boromir of Gondor!” snapped Finduilas in a tone that reminded Boromir, quite forcefully, that she was still his mother, whatever gap of years had closed between them. “You have a great deal left to live for, you ungrateful whelp!”
“So did you,” said Boromir coolly.
“Don't you take that tone with me, young man!”
“You left me and Fari alone because you didn't get enough bloody beach vacations!”
“You seem prepared enough to abandon Faramir yourself,” countered Finduilas, expertly skirting around the accusation.
“Faramir's a big boy now; he can take care of himself.”
“Boromir, your father is mad,” observed his mother suddenly.
“Ooh! News flash!”
“And if you fail to come home, O Son of Mine, who do you suppose will bear the brunt of your mad father's rage and grief?”
“I…” Boromir paused, thinking. Then, he said, “We're talking about Faramir again, aren't we?”
Finduilas sighed resignedly and rolled her eyes slightly. “I have such a clever son.”
Before Boromir could reply, Aragorn appeared at the summit of the hill, looking around bemusedly and shouting at the top of his lungs.
“BoroMIIIR! Where the (censored) are you?”
Finduilas froze, staring at Aragorn as if unsure if he were real. Then, her face lit up in a spasm of ecstasy. “Gil!” she shrieked shrilly.
He turned and started. “Fin?” he said disbelievingly. “I… weren't you… aren't you…”
“Dead, yes,” she said, beaming at him. “You look great.”
“It's the bloodline. We age well,” smirked Aragorn.
Boromir looked back and forth between the pair of them, nonplussed.
“You know each other?”
“Thorongil was in the service of Ecthelion when I first came to live at Minas Tirith,” said Finduilas, twirling a dark strand of hair around her fingers shyly and giggling at him.
“They call me Aragorn now, Fin.”
“Aragorn? I like that. How many names do you have now?”
“More than I can count.”
“Do you remember what I used to call you?”
“You know I do.”
“Can we leave now? Please?” interrupted Boromir queasily.
Finduilas sniffed. “You are right. It is time. Go with Aragorn now, and may your days be long and prosperous.”
“Nice to see you again, Gil. Farewell, my son. Don't screw up again.”
“Hurry up,” muttered Aragorn, seizing Boromir's elbow and steering him through the mist. Boromir turned, craning his neck for one last glimpse of his mother. His last sight was one of her blowing kisses-though at whom, he wasn't quite sure.
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