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A/N: Ages ago, in a LiveJournal drabble meme, Liz challenged me to write a drabble featuring Aragorn and Tom Bombadil. As is becoming sad habit for me, I eschewed the rules of the drabble meme and wrote what has turned into a 3-chapter fic, since I couldn't say what I wanted to say in only 100 words.
Chapter One - Surely I Have Gone Mad...
Aragorn blinked a few times and sat up. Words like ‘what' and ‘where' and ‘how' drifted in aimless clouds through his brain, demanding answers in a distant sort of way. After considerable thought, he decided ‘where' might be the most important one to answer. He blinked again and looked around him.
Saw a river, and water lilies. Sunshine and warm breezes...
The Withywindle, that was it! He had been admiring the water lilies, wishing he could pluck a bouquet of them to give to Arwen. He frowned, massaging his temples. Remembered taking a step and a stone turning and a fall down the steep river bank and a terrific bang against his head. Then he remembered a long black empty silence into which finally a distant, merry voice came singing.
"Hey ho, the river flow... a trilly tra-lily a day..."
The song made no sense but was so happy and gentle that Aragorn had relaxed. For a while the song was all he knew and perhaps all he ever wanted to know, but too soon there came intruding upon his serenity the boggy fish stink of mud and the blue green smell of river water and a pounding realization that all was not well with his head, and so he had pushed against the fish stink mud and struggled upright. He absently swiped his hands against his shirt as he blearily tried to figure out where the singing was coming from.
"Hi dee hoo, dilly a roo, the Ranger's coming to!
Aragorn stared, wondering if the knock to his head had banged every last vestige of sanity from him. Looking down at him from the top of the riverbank was a short, chubby little man with a blue kingfisher feather stuck in his hat and on his feet the most ridiculous yellow boots Aragorn had ever seen. Those boots, and such songs... mirrors? dilly roo... what? dilly lilies? Surely I have gone mad....
The vision laughed again, such a merry ringing of bells that Aragorn reasoned that even if he had lost all sense, at least his hallucinations were of a friendly nature. He shut his eyes and gingerly grasped the back of his head in both hands. There was a knot there as big an egg from the Rivendell cook's best hen. He groaned as he bit his bottom lip. It hurt badly enough to bring tears.
"There, there, my boy," the voice said, and Aragorn heard scrabbling steps coming down the bank and a hand laid itself on his arm. "Can you open your eyes for old Tom?"
Tom... the name spurred a memory somewhere in the murky recesses of his mind. He knew there was a man with that name... a special man... He looked up and squinted at the wrinkled face. "Tom... Bombadil?" Elrond... no, not Elrond. It had been Elladan, or had it been Glorfindel? Erestor? Someone, at any rate, had told him about Tom Bombadil, that he lived in the wilds of the Old Forest by the Withywindle, but whoever it was had said nothing about yellow boots, blue feathers or silly songs.
"Bom Tom, jolly Tom... you have found none other, young man. Tom Bombadil is my name, and yonder stands Goldberry, and we'll take you home and patch you up, for you look in great need of it."
Aragorn looked past Tom and there on the river bank stood a woman so fair and lovely that had Aragorn not so recently been wholly smitten by the beauty of the Evenstar, he might have fallen instantly head over heels in love with her.
He finally found his tongue. "I am..." He paused. Should he use his real name? What had Elladan... Erestor... blast it all, who had it been... said about Tom? Was he friend or foe? His wits were so tossed and battered he couldn't remember. He looked at the jolly little man, trying desperately to find the answer. Old Tom smiled, and then the merry light in his eyes deepened into something that stilled the wild tumble of Aragorn's troubled thoughts. He saw a benevolence there, ageless and wise and made of all the good things that Arda once was and might someday be again. It was as if the spirit of something long vanished from the world was looking back at Aragorn, and smiling. This time, it wasn't his aching head that put tears in Aragorn's eyes.
"My name is Aragorn, son of Arathorn," he said firmly, "and I am very honored to meet you."
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