1. No Escape
Aragorn hesitated, wondering if it would be easier, not to mention less embarrassing, to let things flow. But the wondering was for only a flash of time, and then he stepped forward to where his Steward stood.
"Faramir, I hear you have been making plans."
Faramir looked quite innocent. "Plans? But, of course; it is that time of year."
"Not this year," said Aragorn smoothly.
"But my lord," answered Faramir, "it is expected, it is tradition."
"Then I will break tradition. I am the King."
"Even if he is turning one hundred, a King must have his birthday celebrated," responded Faramir firmly. He paused, and then asked with a twinkle crouching in the corner of one grey eye: "Surely you are not embarrassed by your age?"
Aragorn looked sharply at him, and then sighed. Well, there would be no escape, not even now. He would once again have to face the jokes, worst of all the "undead" ones, for the sake of Gondor and tradition. And yet—he might give in on this, but there was one thing that he would not tolerate again.
"Yes, my lord?"
"No birthday candles."
Faramir suppressed a smile. "As you wish, my lord."
A/N: I don't know how far back the tradition of putting candles proportionate to one's age on birthday cakes, not to mention the challenge of blowing them out in one breath, goes…but it went well for this story. This was inspired by the fact that Aragorn is actually quite old, though he doesn't look it. Happy Birthday, Aragorn, born March 1st, 2931!
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