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32
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.

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 worse 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.

TBC.

Wishing all my readers a happy Easter, Passover and spring season.

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