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He had finally washed the grime and ache from his bones, dressed in clothing that was—thank the stars!—not only clean and fresh-smelling, but also soft, and was sitting on one of the (moderately, but to his muscle it could have been made of pure down) plush chaises that adorned Rivendell’s hallways, a book of poetry in hand, when he heard the near-silent footfalls of an elf beside him. He looked up, and when he saw who was walking he rose.
“My lady,” he said.
“Sit down,” the lady Arwen said, with a musical laugh. “I have never known my father as one to stand on ceremony.”
He sat down, but not before offering her a place next to him. She accepted it.
“I will not ask you,” she said, “to unburden yourself of all the deeds you have accomplished this time, if you need the gentle distraction of this place. Not yet, at least.”
He laughed at this, took her hand in his. “I assure you, beloved, one glance at your face is all the balm I need.” And he proceeded to tell her of the patrols and expeditions of the Dunedain this time, taking care to leave out any battle accounts that might offend feminine sensibilities. She knew he was making some omissions, but she did not chide him, not even gently, for so doing.
“I heard,” she said when he was finished, “something very interesting about you while you were away this time. I wanted to see if it was true myself.”
Aragorn lifted an eyebrow at this.
“It is nothing bad. Would you mind stretching your legs out for me?”
Reluctantly, Aragorn complied, unsure of what his lady love was going on about. Gentle fingers teased the shoes from his feet. He looked down to see a hand outstretched—
“Why, beloved, whatever is the matter?” Aragorn had quickly drawn his feet back and tucked them under the chaise. He could see the suppressed mirth on Arwen’s face.
“Nothing,” he said, assuming the grim countenance he normally held in the presence of the enemy.
“Really?” Her arm snaked out, under the chaise, grabbed his calf, and drew it forth.
“Is this truly becoming behaviour for one of your station?”
She said nothing in response, but began to pull the leg of his trousers up, exposing the ankle, and touch—
“My lady, I do not wish to hurt you!”
“My brothers never said anything about flailing like a madman. Only flinching—”
“And possibly whimpering like a small child.”
Aragorn, fortunately, had become too stoic over the passing years to whimper. He did, however, let out an undignified grunt. “Arwen, if you hold no regard for your own safety, perhaps you will hold some for mine. There are many who would enjoy any sort of leverage over me that they could gain.”
Arwen stopped at this, replaced the shoes on her feet, and resumed her position at Aragorn’s side. “I would never give away such treasured secrets, my love. After all,” she added, laying her hand ever so lightly on his neck, “if everyone knows, how will Ihave leverage over you?”
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