1. A short encounter
Over the years I always tried to somehow justify myself, telling myself that it was only physical attraction born out of loneliness on the road, nothing more.
But deep in my heart I knew that this is not all, I have searched 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. Aye, 'tis true, in secret have we spent the hours behind bolted doors with voices muffled by pillows. And I have taken you here 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 I not also carry 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 you invade my mind.
I close my eyes against the shame they provoke and feel so bereft of honour. Something has taken place in here that I condemned openly more than once. I know well the penalty for this crime, for a crime it is. I have pronounced the doom often enough. 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 upon 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 Lórien or the distance the two of us must now keep. *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.” You lay a hand 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 your 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 finish for you seize my shoulders and shake me violently. I am surprised and push you back forcefully. You are not prepared for this and 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 me, but not as much as you may 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 and bring your face close to mine.
“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, the thought of whatever chance there is at being discovered pushed far into the back of my mind. 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. Your mouth tastes of beer and pipeweed, and I think mine must do so as well. *The taste of a man*
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 once again and it may well be a grave mistake, but the fire cannot be quenched now. 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 aye, I know what I desire. I want to be taken this night, want to see and feel nothing but you. So we stumble across the room towards the open 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 lie here.
Two lords then it shall be. I draw you with me and still fully clothed we fall upon the bed. There we stay for a while, unmoving, our last chance to turn back, but we take it not. A little shift of the hips sends us to life again and we stand once more to attack buckles and laces. You still your movement and search my eyes, then raise your voice in question.
“Do you have something to...?” You cannot bring yourself to finish the question.
It is strange that we are here but still there are things that neither of us wants to voice. But I know what you asked for and I think a moment, trying to remember where I put my healer's satchel.
“Wait,” I say and open the great chest at the foot of the bed. Ah, there it is, on top of everything else. I rummage a bit and finally remove a little jar with salve that is used against infections, then toss it on the bed.
You have already started to get rid of your clothes, and swiftly I follow our example. Then we are in each others arms again.
I find that I know your body still, but it has changed. In the light of my two great lamps I can see scars that have not been there last time – a quarter of a century ago. 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 not 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 me on the bed with a bit more force than necessary. 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*.
You reach for the jar and prepare us while I lie motionless on the bed. Then you are over me and I brace myself for the pain that I know is to come. But you are gentle and I feel almost nothing but pleasure. Our coupling is 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 and sheets 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 you now want 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 will 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 only want to forget the guilt and find oblivion.
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.