Blood in the Snow


Blood in the Snow

 B2MeM Challenge Roles and names of Aragorn1- lover; weather- snow; Emotions- cruelty; Injuries and other ailments - torture. Love in M-e - torn between his oath and his love. Song lyrics - blessings are not just for the ones that kneel- luckily. Aspects of Aragorn1- Aragorn; ;Emotions- Love; Injuries and other ailments- Concussion. Rangers of the North - Eriador. Song Lyrics- Echoes and silence, patience and grace, all of these moments, I'll never replace. Botany - holly. All Ocs all the time- Housekeeper 


Format: short story

Genre: hurt/comfort, romance

Rating: PG13

Warnings: mention of torture and injuries

Characters: Aragorn, Halbarad, OMC, Elrond, Arwen

Pairings: Aragorn/Arwen

Summary: Aragorn fights to save a young Ranger's life.

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Aragorn dropped to his knees in the blood- splattered snow and took the crumpled body in his arms.

“Does he yet live?” asked Halbarad.

“Aye, but barely. We must get him away from here.”

The Rangers surveyed the carnage. The bodies of twenty or so Orcs lay scattered around them, their black blood mingled with the scarlet blood of their young comrade.

“I only hope we have not come too late,” said Aragorn bleakly. He looked sadly at Gilavir who lay insensible, his clothing torn to shreds and blood oozing from his many wounds. He pulled off his cloak and wrapped it around the young man.

“The Orcs grow bolder with each year that passes,” said Halbarad. “They seized their chance when Gilavir became separated from us. At least the snow made them easy to track.”

“There is a cave a league or so yonder,” said Aragorn. “Let us take Gilavir there and tend to him as best we may.”

He whistled to his horse, which trotted over to him. With Halbarad’s help, he lifted Gilavir on the stallion’s back and mounted behind him. Without a backward glance at the dead Orcs, the small party set off through the snowy landscape.

They were relieved to find the cave was dry and airy, and most importantly, well concealed from the eyes of any passing enemy.

Together, they unrolled one of the bedrolls from their packs and laid Gilavir upon it.

Halbarad busied himself making a fire, while Aragorn unwrapped the cloak from around Gilavir. He took a deep breath before starting to examine the young man’s many wounds. He had treated many a victim of an Orc attack, but their cruelty never failed to sicken him. He always found it far harder to treat victims of torture than those wounded in battle.

A cursory glance revealed that Gilavir had been brutally whipped and beaten with clubs. Hardly an inch of his flesh remained unmarked. At least they had arrived in time to save the young man from even worse degradation. The Orcs had been so engrossed in their cruel sport that it had been simple for two seasoned warriors such as Aragorn and Halbarad to take them by surprise.

“I need hot water,” said Aragorn looking up from his examination of Gilavir’s wounds.

“I will melt some snow and kindle a fire,” said Halbarad.

Gilavir groaned and started to struggle, feebly lashing out at Aragorn.

“Easy, lad,” Aragorn soothed. “You are safe now.”

Gilavir opened his eyes. They were wild with terror.

Aragorn rummaged in his pack for the vial of precious poppy syrup he carried and mixed some for the boy. “Drink this,” he said, holding the cup to Gilavir’s lips. “Halbarad and I are here with you. The Orcs are dead. They will never hurt anyone again.”

Gilavir drank the pain relieving draught, but gave no indication of having understood his Chieftain’s words. Aragorn wrapped the cloak around him again and cradled him in his arms as one would a frightened child. Indeed, he was little more than a child with the gangly coltish limbs of a boy still growing.

He waited until the drug had eased Gilavir into a merciful oblivion before cleaning the many lash wounds, salving his bruises and tending cracked ribs and a broken ankle. Aragorn swore softly under his breath as he tended the worst of the wounds. The lad’s hurts were a stark reminder of everything he was fighting against. Every Ranger knew the risks when he took up arms against the Enemy, but Gilavir had not even been fighting. He had been snatched while the three had been hunting for food in the grey winter twilight.

 “We should take him to Rivendell,” Aragorn said, replacing his healing supplies in his pack. “If he is to recover, he needs the peace and warmth of the Last Homely House. I have only limited supplies with which to treat him here. We will leave tomorrow at first light.”

“I will take first watch,” said Halbarad. “You try and get some rest.”

“I cannot rest until Gilavir is safely at Rivendell,” said Aragorn. “I promised the lad’s mother that I would look after him.” He sighed deeply. “I should have insisted he stay close by me once the light began to fail.”

“You have warned him repeatedly of the dangers,” said Halbarad. “The young never listen. They believe they are invincible.”

They passed an uneasy night, trying to keep Gilavir warm between them as best they could and constantly alert lest more Orcs should attack. Aragorn tried to rouse Gilavir every few hours to take water, but the young man seemed loth to open his eyes. Aragorn was unsure whether this was due to the blows to his head he had suffered, or whether he was sinking into deeper unconsciousness, from which he might never awaken. The long hours of the night passed slowly.

As soon as the cheerless grey dawn broke, they loaded Gilavir on to Aragorn’s horse and set out for Rivendell.

Master Elrond himself helped Aragorn tend Gilavir when they reached the Last Homely House. The Elf lord’s face was grim as they bathed and salved the cruel injuries. “He is young and has the resilience of the Dúnedain,” he said at last. “Whether he will live or fully recover, I cannot tell.”

Aragorn was silent, thinking of the many men who had been broken in body and spirit by Orcs who were condemned to live out their lives as mere shadows of their former selves.

“Go and take food and drink, Estel,” said Elrond. “You will better help your young friend when you are rested.”

“Call me at once if he wakes,” said Aragorn. With a last glance at the still figure on the bed, he made his way to his rooms.

“Estel!” Arwen appeared from around a corner and threw her arms around Aragorn.

“Arwen, vanimelda! This is a joy I did not expect, I thought you were in Lothlórien!”

“Blessings are not just for the ones who kneel – luckily!” Arwen laughed. “I returned home just before winter. I did not expect to see you either. Ada said he had not seen you in months”

For a moment, in the joy of her loving arms, Aragorn had forgotten Gilavir’s plight. His face became grave again as he told his beloved the purpose of his visit. “The poor lad is so young,” he concluded. “He has never even taken a wound in battle. Your father hopes he will live, but will he ever smile again?”

“There is always hope,” said Arwen, her eyes were filled with sadness, though. She kissed Aragorn tenderly.

The Ranger belatedly realised his dishevelled state. His clothes were filthy, stained as they were with Orc and Gilavir’s blood. “I should have bathed before embracing you,” he apologised.

“It is you I love, not your clothes,” said Arwen. “I cherish every precious moment that we can spend together.”

Aragorn kissed her again inwardly lamenting his fate that he must be forever torn between his love for Arwen and the oath he had sworn to abide by Master Elrond’s condition not to wed her until he could make her Queen of both Gondor and Arnor.

“You must be hungry,” said Arwen. “We can talk together while you eat then you should seek your bed.”

000

Several hours later, Aragorn had still not rested. He had bathed and changed his garments before dining and then had sat long in the Hall of Fire with his beloved. During the daytime, the Hall was deserted and they were able to talk or simply hold hands and gaze into one another’s eyes. At last, despite the joy of Arwen’s presence, Aragorn’s weariness began to show.

“You must rest now,” said Arwen. “We can talk again later.”

“I must see how Gilavir fares first.”

“I will come with you,” said Arwen.

Together they entered Gilavir’s chamber. The young man lay unmoving beneath layers of soft covers, his head propped on pillows.

“Gilavir?” Aragorn called softly.

The young Ranger stirred and his eyes flickered open. They slowly came to light on Arwen’s beautiful face. He smiled. "I can die content now," he murmered.

B2MeM Challenge Aspects of Aragorn1- Aragorn; ;Emotions- Love; Injuries and other ailments- Concussion. Rangers of the North - Eriador. Song Lyrics- Echoes and silence, patience and grace, all of these moments, I'll never replace. Botany - holly. All Ocs all the time- Housekeeper 

“Is he any better?” Aragorn asked as he entered Gilavir’s chamber.

Elrond shook his head sadly. “I fear not. His mind is sorely troubled. I have done all I can for him, but nothing seems to help. I had hoped the concussion he suffered might have removed the memory of the torment the Orcs inflicted upon him, but sadly not.” Elrond fell silent.

 Aragorn wondered if his foster-father thought of his wife, who had suffered at the hands of the Orcs. The Master of Imladris had been unable to fully heal Celebrian. She had taken flight to the Undying Lands. There was no such refuge for Gilavir.

“I will stay with him now,” said Aragorn. “He knows me, maybe that will help.”

“You must be weary, you sat with him all last night,” said Elrond. “Where is Halbarad? Could he not stay with Gilavir for a while?”

“I sent him back to the Angle. Someone needs to be in charge there or the Orcs will overrun all of Eriador! I have asked him too to send word to Gilavir’s mother and sisters. He is my responsibility as the Chieftain. Alas, the Orcs took him from right under my nose!”

“Hardly that, Estel. Do not blame yourself.” Elrond rose to his feet. “Call me if you need me. I will be within my chambers.”

Aragorn took the chair that his foster father had vacated and sat sadly studying Gilavir, who tossed restlessly in an uneasy sleep. A few days ago, he had regained consciousness, opened his eyes and smiled at Arwen, who had come to visit him. Aragorn had hoped the young man might recover, but despite his care and Master Elrond’s , he was growing weaker and either could not, or would not, swallow the nourishing broths prepared for him. It seemed that the horrors left in his mind by the torture he had suffered at the hands of the Orcs, was preventing his body from healing.

Aragorn pulled back the covers. Gilavir’s bruises had turned a livid purple. His wounds, inflicted by lash and knife, had been cleaned and stitched and did not appear to be festering. Aragorn covered the young man again and looked around the room. Everything that could be had been done to ensure Gilavir’s comfort. He lay beneath soft linen sheets and a down quilt, while soft goose pillows were under his head. A cheerful fire burned in the grate, and the room was decorated with holly branches to mark the winter solstice.

Gilavir moaned and stirred, his bruised fingers clawing restlessly at the covers. Impulsively, Aragorn took one of the young man’s hands between his own. Gilavir’s eyes flickered open. “I am here, Gilavir,” he said gently. “You are safe now in Master Elrond’s house.”

“Cruel leering faces,” Gilavir muttered. “Only pain, nothing else left. My mother and sisters, tell them farewell.”

“You will recover,” Aragorn said reassuringly.

“Too much pain inside.” Gilavir closed his eyes again and turned his head away.

Aragorn’s heart was breaking. This lad had trusted him and been in his care when the Orcs captured him. He wondered desperately how he might help the young Ranger who was fading before his eyes. He wondered if athelas might help. Gilavir did not have the Black Breath, but athelas raised the spirits of all who inhaled the vapours. There was a large jug of water by the bedside. Aragorn poured some into a metal bowl and put it on the fire to heat. When it was ready, he threw more logs on the fire so it blazed up merrily.

He pulled back Gilavir’s covers, and began to unwrap the bandages that covered the young man. He murmured soothing words and draped a towel across the lad’s hips to protect his dignity.

“Leave me be!” Gilavir groaned, turning his face to the wall.

“I have an idea that might help you,” said Aragorn.

“You waste your time, lord., but as you will.” Gilavir moaned softly at the effort of speaking.

In the depths of winter, fresh athelas was hard to come by, but Aragorn had a supply of dried leaves in his pouch. He took two, breathed on them, and cast them into the water.

He held the bowl in front of Gilavir’s face so that the young Ranger might inhale the steam, and then very gently started to bathe the young man’s numerous bruises and abrasions with the mixture.

“What are you doing?” Gilavir muttered.

“Washing away all traces of the Orcs’ foulness,” said Aragorn. “Breathe the steam as deeply as you can.”

Aragorn immediately felt his heart lightened as the refreshing vapours filled his lungs. It seemed to have no effect on Gilavir, though, but Aragorn persisted and bathed the lad from head to toe with the mixture. He replaced the bandages and covered Gilavir again, but kept on bathing the young man’s face and neck. The water grew cold, so Aragorn heated more and cast two more leaves into the bowl.

Gradually, Gilavir started to breathe more deeply and his tense body relaxed. Aragorn only then ceased his ministrations. He sat down by the bedside and gripped Gilavir’s hands in his own. He started to softly sing the hymn to Elbereth.

At last Gilavir spoke. “Why are you taking all this trouble over me?”

“Out of love,” Aragorn said simply. “I would not lose you. Then what of your mother and sisters, or that maiden you danced with at midsummer? Inzilwen was her name, was it not? Would you have them weep for your loss?”

“I am already lost,” said Gilavir. “What those creatures did to me and what they planned to do with me. Afterwards they were going to eat me!”

“But they did not,” said Aragorn. “We reached you in time. You are sore wounded, but you can heal. You are a Man, not an Elf, so the memories of your torment will be gradually blunted by time.”

“I can never be what I was before.”

“None will love you any the less. We simply want you with us.”

Tears started to pour down Gilavir’s face. Aragorn gently took the wounded young man in his arms and wordlessly wiped them away. A few tears leaked from his own eyes. They remained thus in silence for some considerable time.

Master Elrond opened the door to the chamber. His eyes met Aragorn’s in mutual understanding. He smiled and closed the door quietly.

At last, Gilavir’s weeping ceased. “I am hungry,” he said, his amazement obvious in his voice.

“Good,” said Aragorn. “I will ask the housekeeper to bring you something to eat.”

He carefully propped the pillows behind Gilavir then went to the door and asked for a nourishing broth to be brought.

Gilavir’s eyes were now exploring his surroundings. “The holly is most fair,” he said.

“The winter solstice is tonight,” said Aragorn. “The darkness will soon give way to the light.”

The housekeeper knocked on the door and bustled within, carrying a tray. She was not an Elf, but a widow of one of the Rangers, a hale woman of middle years.

“Aye, but it’s good to see you awake and hungry, lad!” she cried. “I’ve kept some of my best chicken broth on the hob for you, hoping you might want it and here’s some of Master Elrond’s rosehip tea to go with it. It tastes good, though I say so myself! Now eat it all up, lad and you’ll soon be as good as new!”

“Thank you, mistress, I will.”

The housekeeper set the tray on the bedside table, gave Gilavir an encouraging smile then bustled away again.

Aragorn took up a spoon and began to feed the young man. Gilavir’s newfound eagerness to eat reminded him of a baby bird.

Gilavir drained the bowl then looked at Aragorn apologetically. ”I fear I am causing a great deal of trouble,” he said.

“There is no greater joy for a healer than to see his patient on the mend,” said Aragorn. “And though I would not for all the world, have any of my men brought low, it is the moments of echoes and silence, patience and grace, that you truly get to know a man. Such moments cannot be replaced.”

“I will recover and hope to fight at your side again,” said Gilavir.

“I know you will,” said Aragorn. “My heart is full of gladness. Hope, like the holly, is evergreen.”

 

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