5. Short encounter
I do not know when or how it started. Was it the warm and comforting hand on the back of a homesick lad? Or was it the first time our eyes met?
I tried to tell myself that it was only physical attraction born out of loneliness on the road, nothing more.
But deep in my heart I know that this is not all, I am searching for a word to describe it but I fear the answer.
No matter what I do, from the moment I reentered this world, my thoughts keep returning to you. I remember our first kiss, our first intimate touches. We were frantic, desperate to feel each other's warmth in that cold night.
And it was over as quickly as it had begun.
But we have had other nights since then. I have taken you in the bed of my forefathers, and you have had me.
Now I come back after my many travels and find everything changed - you are happily married with a little, adorable baby-girl. And for some reason I cannot fathom I feel devastated. No, I do not begrudge you your joy - for who am I to do that? I understand, do not I carry also a promise on my left forefinger?
But I cannot compare it, for I might never have what you call your own now. And suddenly I feel utterly alone.
I sit on the very same bed and images of your presence invade my mind.
I close my eyes against the shame they provoke and feel so bereft of honour. So deep in my thoughts am I that I do not realize that the knocking on my door is more than imagination.
"Aragorn," it is your voice, "I know that you are within. Will you not let me enter?"
For a moment I debate this, I know not if I can face you right now. I left my welcome feast early, for every time I looked at you and your wife I saw what I left behind. It hits me so unexpectedly that I gasp, I know not what I mourn. The elven maiden I left in Lorien or the distance the two of us must now hold. Traitor a soft voice whispers, but I choose to ignore it.
"Come now," your voice reaches my ears again and this time I stand and open the door, for a coward I am not.
I have barely opened it and already you are in the room. When I look into your face I see worry there.
"You looked distraught and I thought you might want to talk." He lays a had on my shoulder and I shiver.
"No, I thank you for your offer, but I am well." I step a few paces back, out of his reach.
"You could never deceive me, old friend. Were we not always close?" You follow me and reach out to touch me again, but I push your hand away.
"Yes, we were, but we were not the men we are now. We both have changed."
You look at me open-mouthed.
"Do you want to tell me that you want our friendship to end?"
"It would be..."
I cannot end for you seize my shoulders and shake me violently. I am surprised and push you back forcefully. You stumble backwards, crash into a chair and fall to the floor.
"Halbarad!" I cry and rush to your side, fearing you had injured yourself.
You sit up then and start to laugh, shaking your head. I do not know where your mirth comes from, but I join in nonetheless, for your laugh is contagious.
"Shall I tell you something?" You manage to gasp and I nod. "We may have changed, you and I, but not as much as you think."
With that you kick my legs from under my crouched position and I fall to the floor, landing on top of you. We stay so for a heartbeat, then I try to move away, but you capture me in your arms.
"No Halbarad, please do not. You will only make matters worse, Eirien..."
"...is not here, but you are. I want..."
"No, say it not, you will only condemn yourself and undo me."
"Then let it be so, I do not care." I know then that I do not, either. But for probity's sake I struggle half-heartedly.
You clutch me to you all the harder. Our lips meet in a fiery kiss then, a feeling that I thought I would never know again.
We must be quiet for we are not the only ones near bye. And so we seal our mouths with kisses. I am dimly aware of the sounds of celebration coming from downstairs. We have brought it home and it may well be a grave mistake, but it is too late to turn around. I have just enough wits left to close the door and bolt it before you press me against it with full force.
NO! Something screams within me and I know it is my conscience, but "yes" I say. And yes, I know what I desire. I want to be taken this night, want to see and feel nothing more than you. So we stumble across the room towards the door that leads to my bedchamber.
The bed is large enough, made for two people, made for the lord and his lady, but I know that my lady shall never here.
Two lords then it shall be. I draw you with me and still fully clothed we fall upon the bed. We know that it is awkward to try to undress ourselves in this position, so we settle for parting. Swiftly we get rid of our clothes and are in each others arms again.
I know your body still, but it has changed. I can see scars that have not been there last time. No, time is running and every passing second brings us closer to our doom, and so I grab at something solid. And at this moment, the only solid thing I have is you.
Despite my best efforts at being quiet, a soft moan escapes me as your hand roams over my body. I know that it was no loud enough to be heard, by I tense nonetheless, my body alert.
"This will not do", you say then, "relax your body. Lean back." You lay a hand on my chest and push. I let my body fall back on the mattress obediently. Your actions are sure and I remember the trust I had in you and will have again. I relish the feeling of being able to completely drop my guard, a thing that is all too seldom granted to me.
When our erections meet, we are prepared and muffle the sounds with our lips.
Time is running, the night is not ours, for soon you will have to be abed next to your wife, and I will be alone. But not just now.
Our coupling is nonetheless slow, both of us want to savour the presence of the other.
But then it is over and we lie there in a tangle of limbs for a while longer. My desire is to fall asleep and wake with you in the morning, but I know that that is impossible, at least here.
All too soon you move into a sitting position and ask,
"Is there something I can clean myself with?"
You gesture at your midsection. Ah yes, I have left my marks on you, have I not? None from fingers or teeth, I have not the right to do that, but other marks he now wants to get rid of. Understandable.
I gesture towards the washstand where I know jug, basin, and rug to be. I watch your every movement as you stand and clean yourself, but have no desire to move more than my eyes.
I continue to watch as you clothe yourself. I only move as you lean down to give me a last kiss.
"I see you in the morning, then?"
"Aye, on the morrow. Give Eirien my greetings."
You smile faintly and nod, then leave the room.
I am alone again. I curl into a ball and close my eyes, waiting for sleep to claim me. Dimly, the thought of what to do with the linens crosses my mind. This matter will be tackled in the morning. Right now, I could not have cared less.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.