5. Hobbits, Nazgul and Glorfindel, Oh my!
Please forgive the delay in updating everything. RL has not been kind.
Part Five: Hobbits, Nazgul and Glorfindel, Oh my!
Aragorn groaned. Could this day get any worse? Elrond had started towards him and Arwen, supposedly to inspect his wounds, though Aragorn still feared he might be in for some additional bruising. Elrond might have raised him, but when it came to his daughter, no one was safe. And now his brothers stood in the door, their gazes both surprised and amused, but thankfully not angry. At least not yet.
"Here now, what is this?" Elrohir asked. Aragorn noted that while amusement tinged his brother's expression, his hand rested on the hilt of the knife his brother used to dress game. Aragorn knew how sharp it was and his only consolation was that it would not hurt too badly when they gelded him.
"What is going on here?" Elladan echoed. He appeared simply curious, but with Elladan, expressions meant little. Aragorn decided that he should have let the Nazgul kill him. It would have been less painful.
Elrond's forward motion had halted upon the appearance of the twins, and he turned partially towards them, sweeping a hand towards Aragorn and Arwen. "Your sister claims she was delivering towels for a maid."
"I was!" Arwen chimed, her annoyance clear in her tone.
Elrond continued as if she had not spoken. "And that upon entering the chamber, she discovered your little brother," —Aragorn frowned at the term — "occupying the tub."
"I did!" Arwen snapped and was dutifully ignored.
"And that he was hurt…"
"Not as much as I will be," Aragorn murmured, shifting uncomfortably in the lukewarm water. Really, was it necessary for them to discuss this here while he sat naked in a tub of rapidly cooling water?
"He is!" Arwen's exasperation was emphasized by the sound of a stomped foot.
Aragorn didn't blame her for her anger. He was getting a bit put out himself. After all, who had walked all over Arda for years looking for that wretched creature, Gollum? Who had returned home only to be sent back out to guard the Shire? Who had rescued Frodo and his companions from their own folly and then been forced to spend weeks in the wilds with hobbits? Who had faced down the Nazgul?
"And she claims," Elrond paused to cast a glance at him at his words and Aragorn wished he had held his tongue, "that she remained in the room to treat his hurts."
Both twins' eyes turned towards their sister and Aragorn peeked up to where she stood beside the tub, expecting another angry outburst, but was instead surprised to see a blush spreading across her cheeks.
"Uh huh," Elrohir said, his eyes twinkling with either deep humor or dark anger. It was so hard to tell sometimes with him. Then his lips turned into a wicked smile as he turned that gaze on his twin. "This beats the time Adar caught you behind the hedge with that maiden from Lothórien."
Elladan grinned. "Yes, at least we both still had our clothes on." The smile turned wicked as he turned calculating eyes towards Aragorn, who wondered what would happen to the line of kings after they removed his ability to reproduce. "Let us see these hurts," Elladan added, stepping further into the room and peering down at Aragorn. He snorted when his eyes met the scratches and bruises that decorated Aragorn's torso. "These hurts required your presence in a closed bathing chamber with your, er, unclothed betrothed?" Elladan asked his sister. Arwen only blushed a deeper pink, and Elladan turned his gaze to his father. "And you believed her?" It was easy to hear the disbelief in his brother's voice and Aragorn cringed.
"I had yet to inspect them before you burst in here!" Elrond snapped, quite uncharacteristic of him, but Aragorn thought the anger might be at how close to the truth Elladan had hit. An argument ensued between the four of them, while Aragorn sat in his cool bathwater feeling quite put out himself. As their voices rose, he wondered if all of Imladris now knew of the situation.
When Elrohir made quite the inappropriate comment, however, Arwen's palm connected to her brother's cheek and the resounding smack brought a short silence to the room. Elrohir lifted a hand to his reddening face, his eyes wide. Then the arguing began again in earnest in louder voices and Aragorn found he had had quite enough.
Standing and uncaring about his unclothed state, he bellowed, "ENOUGH!" All four of the peredhil spun to look at him with wide eyes where he stood in the tub with cold water dripping off places he'd rather not think about at the moment.
"Forgive me for breaking up this family discussion but I am cold, wet, hungry, injured and tired. I have spent months in the wilds without a decent bath, walked for weeks with hobbits — have you ever traveled with hobbits??" When their heads all shook negative, he continued. "They complain about the littlest discomfort and things such as missing Second Breakfast, and Elvensies, and afternoon tea… And don't get me started on that damned pony not getting enough to eat! On top of that we had to divert through a swamp full of biting flies, and even then we were hunted by Nazgul, who tracked us to Weathertop where one of my charges was grievously injured!
"Then we raced for Imladris so Frodo might be saved, only to encounter the merry bells of Glorfindel, which at the time I welcomed! I'd forgotten how annoying he can be in the wild. And once Frodo went ahead on Asfaloth, I had to listen to him grumble and complain about walking the rest of the way back and how foul we all smelled, all the while grinning like an idiot! And once I returned, all I wanted was a bath, something to eat and a bed; so pardon me if I leave you to your 'discussion'."
"And where do you think you are going?" Elrohir asked, narrowing alarmingly angry eyes at him, but Aragorn was beyond caring.
"I am going to find another bathing chamber with hot water and a locking door; and I'm going to finish my bath, dress in clean clothes, and then I'm going to eat whatever I can find and sleep for the next three days!"
Turning, he grabbed a towel from the shelf behind him and wrapped it around him then stepped from the tub, or attempted to. He would have stormed off half naked through the halls of Imladris if his foot had not caught on the edge of the tub, laying him flat on his face at his family's feet with the towel drifting to the floor beside him…just as a cheery voice asked, "Has anyone seen Estel?"
Aragorn groaned and looked up, his gaze meeting the green and brown garb of a Mirkwood warrior, complete with the insignia of the royal family and, specifically, the youngest prince.
To Be Continued…
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